Since I arrived in Hokkaido, I have been snowboarding EVERY single day. It’s nice that we finally get a day trip that does not involve any snowboarding at all. And damn, we picked the best day for it. It’s the first time Mt. Yotei is completely visible (It’s usually covered in clouds).
Brian have put us on a day trip with a bus tour company. The schedule involved visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival as well as the “snow pass” in Otaru to visit the famous candle-lit canal. So off we go with all the snowboarders & skiers from the class. At least a few found the english-speaking tour guide ‘cute’..
The bus ride to Sapporo took about 2.5 hours, and we were soon dropped off at Odori park where we will be staring at snow carvings for the next 3.5 hours. I certainly was more than happy posing for this photo..
There were some instantly recognisable characters.. like Mario!
We almost found the sign of this carving more interesting than the carving itself:
There were quite a few notable life-sized building carvings which were very impressive:
How about fresh SEAFOOD sealed perfectly in ice-carving!
Other than the snow festival itself, our tour guide mentioned a few noteworthy things within the vicinity to check out, namely:
Miso-based Ramen with corn & butter
Apparently a Hokkaido specialty. We found this little alley way which was littered with ramen shops selling Hokkaido ramen:
In typical Japanese style, it was packed full of people crammed into minimum amount of space…
We eventually settled for one, which looked pretty decent to us. The chef was very friendly:
And the ramen itself is certainly one of the best I have tasted!
Amazake (Rice Wine)
We also tried some amazake (??), a traditional sweet, low-alcoholic Japanese drink made from fermented rice. It is seemingly abundant on the steets, selling at just 200 yen (~AUD $3). We certainly couldn’t help but try one!
This is apparently the ‘red-light district’ of Sapporo. So naturally, streets are littered with signs calling men to have lunch or karaoke with attractive ladies:
Rob was even lucky enough to be greeted by two lovely ladies standing by the corner:
We assume they were either hostess or prostitutes looking for business. Again.. we didn’t have enough time to get into that. 🙂 Maybe next time.
If that was not enough for the day, the bus proceeded to take us to Otaru, approximately 1.5 hours away. It has snow sculptures too, but with a different twist. There is an emphasis on candles instead, which looks very pretty at night:
It certainly has a very romantic feel to it, walking along the canal involving so many candles!
For me though, the highlight of Otaru are the amazing array of arts & crafts shops here. With limited time, I only managed to go through a few. This shop captured my attention:
It’s a shop that sells 100% customised tags. The process is simple and goes like this:
1. You choose a piece of wood or plastic, from the plethora of colors & shapes available
2. You tell the artist what you want to write on it. In this case, I asked for my Chinese name to be put on it.
3. Let the artist do his/her job
4. The printer then goes hard at work, etching out the characters on the piece of wood/plastic you selected
5. Let the artist complete her finishing touches
5. Done.. a personalised tag. All done in under 5 minutes.. 🙂
Of course, it wasn’t cheap considering it cost me about 1700 yen (~AUD $20) for this little piece of work. But it was worth it, I think! Hmm.. now, what do I do with it?
There was certainly a lot more to Otaru than we have been able to cover in the short 2 hours we have. I will certainly try to come back here again another day!