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Japan

Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival

Snow and ice sculptures in Odori Park

Our one month journey through Japan begins in the bustling city of Sapporo. It is located on the very top most islands in the archipelago: Hokkaido. In 1972 Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics; the first ever held in Asia. If you like beer the city is home to the Sapporo Brewery. However, if you fancy something sweeter you could try: "White Lovers". They are white chocolate biscuits famous to Sapporo and exclusive to Hokkaido.

Sapporo is also the home of the annual Yuki Matsuri or the Sapporo Snow Festival. This festival draws more than two million tourists from around the world each year. Between February 5 to February 11 you can hope for a break in the often heavy snow fall. If you are lucky and the sun comes out you may wander around the massive, artistic, and dazzling ice sculptures in Odori Park. Even though the temperature can fall well below freezing, if the sun is out the ice festival is the place to be. While walking around the exhibition be aware of the many mobs of school children. They will try to practice their English by continually asking you where you are from and to mark your home on maps they carry. This starts off quite flattering at first, but after nine or ten times it can get old. However, the kids are friendly and very cute.

Massive, artistic, and dazzling ice sculptures

From Odori Park it is a pleasant 30 minute walk to the Sapporo Beer Garden that is located in the Sapporo Beer Factory. When you get there you can eat a yummy lunch of local fair. Such things as: thinly sliced lamb and vegetables that you cook for yourself on your table grill. After lunch visit the Sapporo Beer Museum and buy a beer tasting. There are many kinds of Sapporo beers, and they are all good. You may also meet interesting locals here as it is a hang out for them. The people in Sapporo are very friendly and it is not uncommon to meet older locals that have never seen a non-Asian tourist before. If you encounter this my advice is just to go with the flow. There is very little crime in Japan and the people are extremely polite and kind.

Sapporo Beer Garden

Before you leave Sapporo make sure you see the Sapporo Ice Festival by night lights. Many of the sculptures look better under lights as you can see more contrast on the white snow and ice. Some of the bigger exhibits also put on colored light shows, amazing.

We will continue heading south in my next installment of traveling in Japan.


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