Sometimes alphabet books and alphabet flash cards use the word "igloo" to teach the vowel "i." Other times it's "ice cream." I prefer words that use the short vowel sound over the long vowel sound. However I don't think "igloo" is very useful because no one in Japan, young or old, recognizes it. It only creates more problems explaining about Inuit people and their hunting shelters. So in instances where I find an igloo picture in my English teaching materials I immediately translate it as "kamakura," the Japanese word for a snow house, which is the closest I can get. In reality, though, a "kamakura" is really more like a snow fort, like what most Canadian children build for themselves by the curbside after the city ploughs clear the streets following a heavy snowstorm. This is a picture of a "kamakura" taken on the grounds of the Tokyo Metropolitan Science and Technology High School, a public high school in Koto Ward. I don't know who built it - teachers or students, I didn't ask. It could have been either.
Tokyo has no snow removal equipment, no budget and no department to deal with snow on the streets. It is just left to melt and drain away through storm sewers, while individual homeowners and merchants remove snow from their doorsteps with shovels, brooms and dustpans. They even turn on garden hoses to wash it away. After a storm, if the temperatures are mild enough, it all simply melts away in a couple of days. But if that doesn’t happen, if the temperatures turn colder after a snowfall, then the ground becomes treacherous to walk on.