Friday, February 17, 2012

Let it snow! Sapporo Yuki Matsuri

I wasn't able to go the Snow Festival in Sapporo last year so I made sure to put it in my travel itinerary for the year! Now that I've decided to not recontract, the need to see as much of Japan (I still intend to try and travel to all 4 main islands!) is even stronger! Anyway, the さっぽろ雪祭り (Sapporo Snow Festival) is one of the biggest, if not THE, winter event of the year. The festival showcases hundreds of snow and ice sculptures including ones from abroad and a play site area for me the little ones. The festival itself wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be (and there's *always* crowds in Japan for events).

2 fellow Okayama JETs and I left from Kansai International on Friday and arrived in Sapporo. Last month I went to Nagano and I think that helped prepare me for the cold, but it still amazed me to see all. that. snow!!

The Californian in me thinks this is so awesome!

Day 1 was spent in the Susukino site which had the ice sculptures. Now everything (the Odori, Susukino, and Tsudomu) is held outside so we were taking quick pictures then rushing into the closest conbini to defrost our hands (seems like Sapporo loves Lawsons). 

Frozen seafood. Oh Japan.

The sculptures are lit up at night as well so we headed towards Odori which is the main site for the snow sculptures. I wasn't really prepared for the size of some of the sculptures even though I've seen previous year's.

The details in these sculptures is just mind-blowing

On Day 2 we took a brief break from the festival to see the Ishiya Chocolate Factory, which is famous for the White Lover's Chocolate omiyage 白い恋人. For a second I thought I stepped into Narnia, or the It's a Small World ride. I didn't expect the amusement park-like design for a chocolate factory. I'm sure it would be even nicer in the spring/summer because the place had a rose garden. Afterwards we took the subway to the Tsudomu site, and went back to Odori at night to finish where we left off.

Hong Kong's sculpture. Won the international competition.

Now, snow sculptures are all well and good, but I think a hidden gem of Hokkaido, is the food. Dairy products, flavored caramel (butter, salt, matcha anyone?), miso ramen, and the ultimate Ghengis Khan? *DROOL* Japan really makes me wish humans were born with 2 stomachs.

Akarenga ramen @ Akarenga, Ramen Yokocho: Butter, corn, and chashu. Oh yeaaa.

Genghis Khan @ Sapporo Beer Garden: lamb yakinu. The grill is a bit-domed shape like a hat/helmet.

I don't take Japan's weather well: my California sensibilities detest the cold, but Hokkaido and the Snow Festival is worth going to and I more or less returned with good health (layers and layers, heat tech, カイロ, and snow/waterproof shoes shall save your life). My only regret is not having more time to explore more of Hokkaido (Hakodate~~) and not having another stomach soup curry, another famous Sapporo dish. More pics of the sculptures (and food) can be found on my Flickr


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