Hokkaido: Day Five

At the Hokkaido Historical Museum, there was a special exhibit on the Ainu going on. I was really happy to find an exhibit dedicated solely to the Sending of the Bears ceremony, as my dad has written a song about it.

Today it was Nicky and I one our own, as Erin doesn’t really like museums, and Nicky and I requested a bit of time to be together. we decided to go to Shinrikoen, a small suburb of Sapporo about twenty minutes away, since they offer two different, and equally famous museums in their district. The first place we went was the Hokkaido Historical Museum, situated on top of a mountain of snow, and the Hokkaido Historical Village, which is pretty much a museum of old buildings in the open air.

Shinrikoen is a small town, with literally no buildings over four stories- blanketed in snow, and exceptionally quiet, while Nicky and I walked, it was like we were the only people in the whole world. It was gorgeous, and quite peaceful. The walk up the slope towards the museums could be described as nothing less than stunning, as the nude trees were buried to their branches in snow, and the roads were so full of ice that they ceased to be asphalt and more of a long, winding stream. The sidewalks had their fare share of ice as well- walking across them and hearing the ice crack was surreal, like I was about to fall into a pond of frigid water. 

After about thirty minutes of walking, we finally reached the museum, which was preceded by a gigantic spire of a tower. The tower was apparently a commemoration statue of sorts. After about thirty minutes of walking from the station, we finally arrived at the Historical Museum of Hokkaido. I really liked this museum, as there was only one pathway through it, starting at prehistoric times, with mastodons and old trees, and ending in the “future” of Hokkaido. There were several exhibits in particular that I enjoyed, most notably the Jomon exhibit, where they had the actual clay dolls, and the Ainu exhibit, which also had a special addition of about one hundred Ainu robes this month. There are pictures in my gallery.

After the museum, we headed back down the slope for about ten minutes to make our way to the Sapporo Historical Village, which was mostly deserted, I think because today was the last day of the snow festival, and also because the road conditions were not very favorable. The village was beautiful though. Nicky and I rented a horse carriage to be drawn through the village. It was really romantic, even though other people were in the cart, because of all of the snow and the lovely setting. The village pretty much looked like a setler’s village, with an old farm, cabin, police station and train station. There was also a suspension bridge, but it was unfortunately closed due to the heavy snow (the snow was actually higher than the bridge itself). We stayed until the park closed, and then ran to catch the last bus, as it was starting to get dark and the snow had started up again. It was probably the scariest bus ride I’ve ever been on, as the driver was going quite fast down an icy slope, but we got to the station safely, and then headed back to the ryokan.

When we got back, we were stopped at the door by Keiko-san, the 84-year-old grandmother of the innkeeper, and Nicky complimented her on looking pretty- at this point, Keiko-san laughed, and started to strip down! Nicky and I stood frozen in the doorway as this little old woman started pulling her pants down and her sweater up, all while singing “Nude-o Nude-o!” It was quite hilarious, though we were saved by Naomi-san (her daughter), who made her stop.

It was an awesome day... one of my favorites of the trip so far... but tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!