Date of Travel: 06/02/2012
The day of the Sapporo Snow Festival has arrived, and there was definitely a buzz in the air. We arrived at Odori Park at about 10am, and it was already packed with people. While we had not yet explored the western end of Odori Park, we decided to head back east to see some of the performances on the larger stages. The first major one we stumbled upon was an Indian dance performance on the large Taj Mahal stage to some songs from Slum Dog Millionaire. The Disney Stage was also pretty popular, with some Disney characters present to give the kids plenty of entertainment.
Slightly further along was the snowboard ramp, where plenty of local professional snowboards showed off their skills. While most had pretty basic tricks (e.g. 360 horizontal twists), there were several standouts. One snowboarder managed a 360 vertical flip on such a short ramp! It was definitely one of the more popular attractions at Odori Park. Afterwards, we headed off to look for some lunch at the outdoor stalls. We did pause to listen to a performance from a Chinese singer at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall along the way.
There were many good food options at the outdoor stalls, but the one which immediately caught by eye was grilled snow crab legs. That thing was massive! I was given scissors to try and pry open the shell. I saw a stash of broken scissors which showed how tough it was to remove the shells. The crab was delicious, though it was a bit cold since the heat didn’t go through all the way. Other options were tempting (e.g. curry soup, yakisoba), but I decided to save some money since I wasn’t too hungry.
Shortly after lunch, we hopped on a bus towards Tsu-Dome, which was the second of the three Snow Festival sites. Unlike the Odori site which featured large snow sculptures and performances, the Tsu-Dome site was geared more towards kids. The indoor area for example featured rides and mascots for kids. There was also a snowman mascot, which Brownie and I called the “Terrorist Snowman” due to the clock it has on its chest…
Outside, there was a snow sculpture competition for amateur competitors. Some of those sculptures were surprisingly good. There were also large snow slides, and snow sculptures of furniture and vehicles for kids. It was fun to walk around and soak in the festival atmosphere. Walking back to the bus stop, we stumbled across the first obvious case of Engrish, which brought a grin on our faces.
Our next stop was Mount Moiwa. We took a tram from Susukino Street, then a cable car up to the top. Along the way up, we were really excited with the amazing view of the city which we got a taste off from the cable car, and could only imagine how beautiful it would be from the top. Unfortunately, we can only go by our imaginations…as a fog kicked in and covered the view of the city. What a disappointment! But we kept ourselves entertained by trying to take all sorts of creative photos in the fog. Best to make the most of every opportunity!
A few minutes later, we realized we were late for a catch-up with one of Brownie’s friends. We rushed back towards Odori Park to meet up with them outside the Sapporo TV Tower. We decided to go up the tower, but half regretted our decision after having to wait over 40 minutes in the queue. Thankfully, the view of Odori Park was amazing! We decided to take a stroll along Susukino Street after we descended from the tower. This was the final of the three Snow Festival sites. Susukino is the main street of Sapporo, and is full of malls, restaurants and nightlife. The centre of the road was lined with plenty of ice sculptures – some of which were still being sculptured.
We stopped by a ramen shop for some dinner. Sapporo is famous for its miso ramen, so all of us went for that option. However, the buttery broth was way too rich for Brownie and my liking. It was a poor first experience having ramen in Japan! Thankfully I had some beer to down it all down. We continued walking among the ice sculptures after dinner, and witnessed someone almost topple over his own sculpture by mistake.
On the way back towards Odori Park, one of Brownie’s friends decided to treat us to Amazake, which was a drink made from pulp residue from Sake brewing. She bought it from a shady guy, who did not even seem to work there. The drink itself wasn’t very nice as it kind of tasted like dish-washing liquid, but definitely helped warm us up. Odori Park was almost completely deserted by the time we arrived there, as all activities had stopped for the day. It was eerie walking around when it was so quiet, but it was also nice not having to be rushed around by the crowd. After slowly walking back to the Ryokan, then bidding Brownie’s friends farewell, we turned in for a good night’s rest after a very cold but exciting day.
Bus to Tsu-Dome site from Odori Park – 200 yen
Bus to Susukino Street from Tsu-Dome site – 200 yen
Streetcar to Mount Moiwa – 340 yen
Nakamuraya Ryokan – 5,775 yen
Breakfast from SunkUs convenience store at Odori Park – 378 yen [Hotdog, Chocolate cornet and strawberry pocky]
Lunch from stalls at Odori Park – 1,230 yen [Crab leg, and potato stick]
Cookie and cream pocky at Tsu-Dome – 84 yen
Dinner along Susukino Street – 1,100 yen [Miso ramen and beer]
N/A [Need to save money once in a while right?]
TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
11,707 yen (225,027 yen total)