February 2009 - Japan

So many months later I find myself reading my Japanese blog and realised half my trip was missing. For the benefit of looking back on this in the future I'm now going to attempt to write what was missing.

If I recall I left you all in Hanioche on my way to Sapporo. We arrived around lunchtime into Sapporo after a rather uneventful train trip. More snow, lots more snow was covering the ground now and by the time we made it out of the train station and to the Hotel it was snowing, so we were dragging our bags along icey sidewalks and roads about 5 blocks to the Hotel and when we got there our room wasn't ready.

We dumped our stuff and headed back to the train station which seemed to be the centre of shopping in Sapporo. We found Loft again (well finding a huge yellow sign is pretty easy) and when we were finished we wandered the cold streets down to the strip of parks when the Snow Festival was being held. The clouds made 2pm look and feel like 5pm and the clouds opened and powder snow fell the whole time we were out and about. I remember taking Jonno's photo with a rather strange green creature and marvelling at the sheer size of these ice sculptures. They were massive! There was a small ice skating rink, bands playing on ice stages and school kiddies performing as well. It was this wonderful carnival atomosphere and I will say now if you get the opportunity to see the Sapporo Snow Festival...TAKE IT.

We had a brief stop off back in the room before heading out again to find dinner and look at the sculptures at night. The cross street to the park had smaller ice sculptures (we are still talking 2m by 2m at least) running for about 3 blocks with an ice slippery dip at the end. I wanted to have a side but Jonno didn't. I was wearing Susan's ski pants but thought better of it in the end. Dinner was in a pub that we found in the undercover shops. Average food, I tried to suffer through a beer again but barely made it halfway and had to get Jonno to help out. Dropped a piece of steak on Susan's white ski pants (oops).

If the ice sculptures were pretty in the day it was nothing compared with the night. Powder snow, all lit up, hundreds (instead of thousands) of people around. It was magical.

I shall continue the rest in due time in Part 2