Let me tell you guys about Sapporo. That place is awesome!
I learned this pose from a little kid at the mall.
Immediately, we found that Sapporo was cold. Our warm weather selves were not used to winter weather at all, and I shivered at the sight of a sign reading Welcome to Sapporo! -4°C. Brrr.
In spite of the cold, people were out enjoying Yaki Matsuri (Snow Festival)! We joined huge crowds of people and grabbed delicious beers, seafood, crab, and desserts. Hokkaido is famous for its seafood pulled straight from frigid waters, and I wanted in on that! Carl wanted a Sapporo beer in Sapporo.
Those are chocolate dipped frozen bananas with animal crackers labeled “pigeon”, “parrot”, “eagle”, and “lion”–so specific! 🙂
At Yuki Matsuri, professional and non-professional ice sculptors come together to present and compete. We loved some of the smaller ones, especially the minions and Star Wars themed ones! After a long row of questionable Japanese anime characters, we found a sculpture of a U.S. Navy Ship and two sailors standing by, bundled up against the cold. Immediate thoughts: How can I get my orders converted to build ice sculptures??? We talked to them for a while, and congratulated them on their great work, then moved on to the big displays and events.
During Yuki Matsuri, Sapporo’s Tsudome is converted into Winter Wonderworld. You can take a shuttle bus from downtown Sapporo, then play all day on these outdoor snow slides (perfect for kids in snow suits, not so much for me). Carl and I took a ride on a snowmobile-pulled raft thing, then rode down this hill racing each other, then walked around the inside of the Tsudome looking at various booths and eating.
SAPPORO CLOCK TOWER
Sapporo is also famous for its historic clock tower, which once was the highest building for miles. Now you can barely find it between the larger towers surrounding it. Built in the 1870s as an agricultural school, it stands now as a historic monument and symbol of Sapporo. We were treated to a tour by some very good English speakers and showed upstairs to a room with a great view of the falling snow.
And there was so much snow.
Inevitably, we both started singing songs from Disney’s Frozen.
Because it was Sunday, we headed to mass, which was the first time that we had gone to a mass completely in Japanese. Everyone in the church scrambled to find English translation hymnals for us, but nothing was found, and we happily hummed along to whatever was going on. As we left, we laughed about how at home we’d felt in this church, although we understood none of the language. Church is church, I guess, at the end of the day.
My first time ever skiing was much more of a success than I expected, which isn’t saying much! Sapporo was a beautiful place to learn, and Carl was a great instructor! 🙂 For this trip, we chose Sapporo Teine, only a short 20 minute train ride from downtown Sapporo–some of the hotels even offered a straight shuttle bus!
Skiing was harder than I’d imagined. I wouldn’t generally describe myself as a fearful person, but on the slopes, I knew that I was just not coordinated enough to survive! After some bunny hills, and a few trips to the snack bar, I was finally able to enjoy skiing, although I’m not sure anyone can enjoy it quite as much as Carl does.
Hide, our Air BnB host. This guy is the best!
Sapporo was one of the most fun-packed cities we visited. We loved staying with Hide and getting to know him, and loved all of the excitement of the Snow Festival. See you again, Hokkaido!