Hokkaido: Day Two

Today we visited the main attraction in Sapporo- the Yuki Matsuri! This photo was from the night time illumination, and the Self Defense Force’s sculpture was by far the best.

Today it was time for the main event- The Yuki Matsuri! We got up early and headed downtown to see the sculptures. I have been looking forward to this for months, so I was really excited to get to see them at long last. They certainly didn’t disappoint. In particular, the Japanese Self Defense Force’s sculpture was fantastic; an owl swooping down in front of Hokkaido’s city hall, with many other famous world heritage sites, and the Great Wall of China surrounding the whole piece. It was so HUGE!

We were also stopped a million times over by young children from the Chuo Elementary School for a English questionnaire.... it was cute the first three times, but then it started to become a game of avoiding the children, running when they started heading in our direction and struggling not to make eye contact. It’s a shame that our group sticks out like a sore thumb here!

There was a snowboarding event that we also crowded in for- the snowboarders themselves weren’t all that great but I think I got some good shots. You can see the photos in my gallery. Afterwards, we continued on our way down the displays, though these can be better expressed through the photos than here.

It started snowing pretty bad at this point, but we would not be deterred. Erin had the bright idea to buy umbrellas to keep the snow from piling up on us, so at least we didn’t get too wet, as we moved on to go see the ice sculptures at another site in Susukino. The sculptures there were really cool. I particularly liked the angelfish (because it looked like the ice was going to break at any moment) and the wedded dragon and phoenix (for all of the detail).

At this point, we were getting pretty hungry at this point so decided to head on over to the famous Ramen Alley (Ramen-yoncho) in Sapporo for some late lunch. Erin in particular had been looking forward to this, so we walked the whole alley before choosing our restaurant. We found this awesome place with autographs hanging all over the wall and a sweet couple who acted as the entire staff. The main food I really wanted to try in Hokkaido was their crab, as they’re famous for it, but it is ridiculously expensive usually. As it turned out, there was crab ramen at this store, for only $12! I ordered it immediately.

It was so delicious! I’ve never had crab that was so naturally buttery and sweet. Even Nicky loved it, and she doesn’t like shellfish! I really hope another opportunity to eat Hokkaido crab comes up, because even now I can taste it- and I want more!

We headed back to the ryokan after lunch, since it was going to be a couple more hours until it got dark and we could go see the illuminations. I took the opportunity to have a traditional Japanese bath downstairs, but I am afraid to say that I couldn’t actually get in the bath! The water was too hot- perhaps because the bathtub was metal, but every time I tried to put my feet in they’d burn. If that is the normal temperature of a Japanese bath, I think I’ve discovered the secret to the Japanese’s flawless skin.

At around 5:30, we headed back out, but it had started snowing again- snowing so badly it was nearly a blizzard! Our umbrellas protected us, but every five minutes I was having to shake off the pound of snow that had settled on the roof of it. Intense!

The illuminations were gorgeous- I wasn’t able to get great photos due to the blizzard, so I will try to go see them again at night before the festival is over. This truly is something you have to be here to truly understand- the light shows, the detail of the sculpture- those are things that photography and movies simply can’t capture fully.

Tomorrow- Sapporo Beer Garden!