Between the age of seven and twelve, every winter, my life revolved around one thing — an igloo. In the region of Japan where I grew up, it used to snow quite a lot, and every winter, as soon as I saw the first snowfall, I would look forward to the arrival of a snow storm, which usually visited my hometown a few times during the winter season.

My passion for an igloo started when I happened to see the gorgeous igloos — called kamakura in the local language — featured on a TV show one evening. It was a scene from a very famous winter festival in one of the neighbouring prefectures, and inside a huge round igloo, people were cooking food on fire. It looked so cozy inside. That moment, I decided that this was what I wanted to experience myself.

That winter, when a snow storm hit my hometown, I hurriedly went outside with a shovel, and started to make my own igloo. Since my mother opposed the idea of having an igloo in the garden (“It will block the sunlight,” she said), I was instead assigned a tiny spot behind the garage.

Once outside, I started to first collect as much snow as possible in my allotted spot using the shovel. It was quite a bit of work for a seven year old child. But my excitement for the outcome kept me going. I spent hours collecting snow from the garage, and then even from the street as my snow mountain slowly but surely grew bigger. A few times, adults in the neighbourhood found me relentlessly shoveling the snow and complimented me. “Wow, you’re so impressive! Shoveling the snow on such a day!” None of them knew that I was actually making an igloo.

After some hard work, I thought the snow mountain was large enough, and replaced the big shovel by my father’s gardening shovel to start carving the inside of my igloo. I crouched on the ground and started to carve out a hole inside the snow mountain. whatever snow I carved out, I put it on top of the snow mountain so that the size could become bigger.

I dug deeper and deeper like a mole, and slowly, the snow mountain started to look like an igloo. On my day one, I managed to create a hole large enough to contain half of my body. Then the dusk came and I had to stop for the day.

The next day, I went out to my igloo again to continue my carving work. It was such a satisfactory time. In my head, I was the heroin of a documentary film, and I was telling the world how hard this process was, what had been the biggest challenge, and so on.

After a few days of carving work, my igloo was finally done. I could now sit inside my tiny igloo. My mother brought me a tangerine and I ate it inside my newly built igloo. That was the celebration. A few times, I also invited my friends to my new house.

Then about a week later, a tragedy happened. As I went to see my igloo as usual, I found a yellow trace inside my sacred igloo! Apparently, the cats in my neighbourhood peed in my igloo. I was furious. “They must have felt so comfortable inside your igloo,” said my father trying to console me.

This igloo ritual continued for the next several years. Every winter, I made an igloo and enjoyed some cozy time inside until the naughty cats came and blessed the place with their pee.