Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Travel: Sapporo Snow Festival 雪まつり

So, our latest big trip was to Hokkaido to see the Sapporo Snow Festival, better known to the Japanese as the Yuki Matsuri. It took a bit of planning / figuring out how to get there and which days to take off work, but in the end we went with traveling by ferry over flying. It really shocks me how expensive it is to fly domestically in Japan (although now some discount airlines are popping up), and taking the trains isn't cheap either, especially for such a far distance. There were a lot of nay-sayers in regards to taking the boat "because of sea-sickness" and "rough waves," but Matt and I decided to take our chances with the Shin-Nihonkai Ferry. It was quite enjoyable and relaxing, actually.

Overall, I definitely recommend traveling to Hokkaido by ferry. My suggestions:
  • The bunk beds are worth the extra money. 
  • Bring something to do on the boat (Book, e-reader, tablet, handheld gaming console, etc.)
  • Layered clothes are a good idea because the rooms might be uncomfortably hot or cold.
  • BRING DRINKS AND SNACKS. The gift shop has weird hours, as do the restaurants during off-season. 

Hokkaido is basically the Alaska of Japan. It's very cold in the winter, and most of my Japanese friends/co-workers have never been. I even dreaded the idea of being placed there, and never really gave it much thought for visiting until I heard about the Yuki Matsuri. Viewing elaborate snow and ice sculptures on display in Odori Park sounded like a fun little winter getaway, and a good excuse to go somewhere in February since there were no public holidays during the workweek this month.

I finally got the video edited and online, so enjoy! Be advised that it's almost 20:00 -- my longest one yet. I also shared a shorter version of this with my JHS students and they seemed to really enjoy it. If anything, hopefully it sparks interest in someone for travel and adventure.

I also really had to pick and choose when it came to taking photos and video footage during this trip, because it was SO cold, even with gloves on! Most of the shots were taken with my keitai as usual, but they turned out better than I would have expected. This post would be 8 years long if I went into details of everything, so I'm just going to post another Flickr slideshow. Beware of alpacas!!!

I don't know about you, but after this winter I'm definitely ready for some cherry blossoms and sunshine!

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