Friday, February 15, 2008
Snow Festival
The Yuki Matsuri (aka. Snow Festival) was a festival I knew I wanted to go to before ever arriving in Japan. Plus it gave me a good excuse to go and visit Hokkaido. So I planed early and went with a fairly large group of people from my prefecture. Got a fairly good deal too! It was snowing when we arrived in Sapporo, but that was the only time it snowed while I was there. It was a bit disappointing as Hokkaido is known for its cold weather and snow and I was expecting way more snow than I actually saw. But, at least the weather was nice for all the sight seeing I did. From the airport, we took a train to Sapporo itself and then a cab with this really cute heart light to our ryokan (aka. Japanese style hotel).

The ryokan was really nice. The lounge area was comforatable and the staff spoke some English, which is always helpful. They also gave us some coupons for various restaurants in the area. Plus, while we were putting away our bags, one of the employees, all decked out in a kimono, came and served us green tea and chocolate mochi.

After getting settled in, we used some of those coupons the hotel gave us and hit up a ramen shop. Sapporo is well know for its ramen and as I love ramen, this worked out quite well for me. I ended up eating a tasty butter and pork ramen. The only thing disappointing about it was that I wanted to try a bunch of different types of ramen but the serving size was so huge that I could barely finish the first, and thus only, thing I ordered.

After that we hit up the town and ran across a rather busy street with a bunch of ice sculptures. There were a few that you could even be a part of, like this one made to look like a castle. Seemed to be a big hit will all the kids. After that we ended up doing an all you can eat/all you can drink deal at a karaoke place.

The next morning we got a bright and early start. Checked out all the massive size snow sculptures and various smaller snow and ice sculptures. There was also a cute ice slide for the kids.

Can't go to a festival without picking up some food, so a bunch of us got panda shaped meat buns. There was also a reverse panda (like the picture, but switch the black and white parts). The revers panda is a popular icon in the area in the large numbers of avaialble merchandise was any hint. Besides food the only thing I picked up while in Hokkaido were a hello kitty sapporo ramen ketai charm and a snow festival 2008 hand towel.

Hokkaido is famous for its crab, so the next day we hit up a crab restaruant. The ryokan people helped us make a reservation and provided a coupon too! The place was really nice and the crab was great! There was an insane amout of variety in what you could order with carb. Crab sushi, sashimi, gratan, plain, cooked, in a salad, tempura style......etc., etc. The only downer was that it was super expensive. Thank goodness for the coupons.

After that we went back to look at even more snow scupltures. They seriously seemed to never end! Also watched a few people jump on the make shift ski slope they had. Couldn't resist taking a picture of some guy who was standing next to use also watching the skiers and snowboarders.. The hair!

Hokkaido is also famous for it's Ghangais Khan (aka. lamb meat) so that night we went to and did and all you can drink, all you can eat lamb deal. After that we hit up a karaoke place once for a few hours and then headed back home.

There wasn't much time between waking up and having to go to the airport on the last day so we just bummed around the city. Myself and Elaine ended up hangging out while the others went out for some kind of famous soup. We went up to the top of some building and rode the ferris wheel that was there and took in the scenery. It was a nice relaxing way to end my Hokkaido trip.

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