Yuki Matsuri (Sapporo Winter Snow Festival)
I guess I’m a little late on posting this report on the Winter Snow Festival in Sapporo last weekend, but I’ve just been really beat this last week and have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get some extra sleep. I think the cold weather up north sapped my energy reserves. That or two nights of wild karaoke did me in. Probably a bit of both.
So a bit of background info on the Snow Festival. It was started in 1955 by a bunch of students and now has ballooned into one of the biggest festivals in Japan, drawing in around two million people each year. Sapporo, which is the second largest party city in Japan, feels a lot like Minnesota. The city, the houses, the atmosphere has a very “upper mid-west” thing going on. Plus its a major dairy center. Cheese is your friend.
Simon, Crystal, and I headed up there via Hiroshima Airport on Friday morning. In a strange twist of events we ended up on the same plane as the band Blind Guardian, a favorite of my former college room mate John, who has just finished up in Hiroshima City and was heading up to Sapporo for another concert. We arrived in Sapporo to find the city under a heat wave (oh the irony) and that many of the sculptures were melting at an alarming rate. We met up with another group of Fukuyama JETs (which included Matt, Mark, Bill, and Tanya) and tried not to slip and break our necks on the very icy festival grounds. The sculptures still looked nice all lit up, even if they were melting.
On Saturday our group went out to the far away festival grounds, which were also melting, to see some other sights. Such as a maze, and a very big slide (with and hour and a half wait). We also saw a massive field of snowmen who looked slightly ominous. Us group of guys tried our luck being pulled around on a large inflatable raft behind a crazy Japanese man in a snowmobile. It was fun times being had by all. (Oh, and not to downplay the snow in Sapporo at all, because usually its very extreme. Like South Dakota extreme judging by the very large snow blowers and snow plows I saw in the city. Heck, the last picture is from Monday when it showed a lot on us.))
That evening I attempted to go to the Blind Guardian concert, but found out that it started at 5 (while I showed up at 6) and was a tad expensive. Instead I joined up with my friends again and we went to an all you could eat lamb place which served us extremely tall amounts of beer. As you can see from the photo. This was followed up by karaoke. The next day Crystal, Simon, and I went to a chocolate factory to enjoy the wonderful smell and Willy Wonka like look that they had set up.
That evening we went to a sento, had a lot of super good crab to eat, and caught a very fun Beatles cover band in a very small bar. Check out Brits Beat Club online and even view their evening sets live on their webpage. I know. Fun indeed. That or view the video I took off my small camera. Not the best sound quality, but decent enough. (Its sad I didn’t catch the 8 minute rendition of An Englishman in New York which was damned good)
Well thats the jist of things going on around here. I hope my pictures have made you a bit cold. I know I still am.