February 8, 2009


I just got back from my trip to Hokkaido. It was amazing. I love snow!!

I went with my friend Angelina who lives on the other side of the prefecture from me. She was part of the Okinawa crew as well. This time it was just us 2. There were 4 others who also went but because we booked our package after them, we ended up at a different hotel. We tended not to be on the same rhythm so we didn't see them very much.

Angelina and I had a great time. Our first night, we took it easy. The other 4 went for all you can eat and drink. Angelina was getting over the flu and I wasn't really feeling the need to go all out drinking on the first night. It's not really a good move for a vacation, especially a short one with limited time. So we went to our hotel and settled in. There just happened to be a shodo shop right next door. (Oh, yeah, I never did get to those updates I mentioned. Shodo is Japanese calligraphy. Well, I guess it's really Chinese since the characters come from China. But it's a hobby that I picked up after the new year. I go to a class at a shrine in my city with a woman from work. It's a lot of fun.)

So, we made a stop in there and bought some stuff to do shodo with. I had brought my kit of shodo stuff with me since I had forgotten back at the mid-year seminar and I was only able to pick it up on the way out of town to Hokkaido. So, I figured we could do some artsy stuff while in the hotel room. The lady was really nice. We of course were polite and spoke in our best Japanese. At the end, she asked where we were from. Angelina, Canada and me, USA. But we mentioned we lived in Kagawa. Then, she ran off and came back with gifts. For some reason, that happens to us a lot. I guess it's what you get for being nice and talking with people and giving communication a try. She gave us these cool stationary sets. Then we walked through the nearby park where we found some snow sculptures. We started to take pictures at one that had 2009 carved into it. But a man said, "Wait, wait, wait!!!" and ran off into a building. We could see through the window that he was picking up a plastic crate of some sort. We were a bit confused. When he returned, he offered us these oddly shaped things. They were costumes of sorts. The 2009 was carved into the bottom of a snowman. The top was the hat that you wear as you stand behind it so it looks like you are a snowman. They had another hat too. It was too funny. We were the first visitors apparently. So he was really excited. On our way out of the park we of course had to make snow angels. You can't pass up that opportunity when it presents itself.

After, we decided to walk around to find a restaurant. I knew the direction of the train station station, so I figured if we walked in that direction, we would start running into busier sections with restaurant choices. But we kept walking and walking and nothing. We finally started heading back towards the hotel and found a place to eat. The next day when we tried to go to the main park, we kept walking and walking down the same street. I knew it would be a good distance away so we kept walking. Angelina just happened to mention some street signs that had numbers and directions. Like West 13, South 4 or something. It made something click from when I read through the Sapporo (Hokkaido's capital city and host of the snow festival) part of the guidebook. They numbered their streets north/south based on the park and east/west based on a river. The numbers didn't match what I thought they should with how long we were walking. I thought maybe I had mistaken the direction of the station. We walked one more block and it changed to West 14. That meant we had been heading parallel to the park the entire time. 14 was the end of the park, but at 0 North/South. So we just had to head 4 blocks north. A bit silly on my part. But with that, we came into the park where there was this old building and a nice secluded feeling area with trees and lots of snow. So we took some pictures and then decided it was time to make snowmen. We did western style ones - 3 balls. In Japan, the yukidaruma only have 2 balls. But after we spent a few hours walking the 14 blocks of the park where the snow festival is held and back, someone had altered our snowmen. My Herbert had inexplicably gone from 3 to 2. And it wasn't an accident, as if the head had just fallen off. The head was there, but the middle section was gone. And it was nowhere to be found. But it was fine, because he matched Franklin's height.

It was an amazing 4 days. Too short though. But I got to play in the snow which was my biggest goal. We sledded and played snow golf and made snowmen and slid down ice slides and ice skated and threw snowballs and icicles and made snow angels and all that. And though it was clear skies on the first and last days of the trip, which was nice for traveling in and out of Hokkaido, it was all kinds of snowy during the middle two days. I could go into detail about the whole trip, but it would probably just get boring. I suggest going to a snow festival if you ever can.

Pictures to be posted when my camera battery gets recharged. I forgot that it and the spare were both used up.