Originally when I decided to go back to Japan in winter, I was planning on going for New Years. Besides the fact that I wasn't able to save up enough money in time, I would have had to meet her whole family, and that would have been weird. Oh wait, I guess I did that anyway. I found out that the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (that's "Snow Festival" to you, Whitey) would be held from February 5th through the 11th, so that seemed like a perfect time to go, what with it also being half a year between Rising Suns. I had only been to the festival once before, so I was pretty excited about it.
We set out in the early afternoon after watching most of the rest of Ponyo (Miwako had taped it off of TV (what sort of weird futuristic technology is this?!?), but the tape cut out about 5 minutes before the movie ended). Today we took the 15-minute walk to Zenibako Station, which made me realize just how much I miss living in a place that gets buried in snow in winter. It was already starting to get dark out by the time we got to Sapporo, so we headed straight for Odori Park.
We followed the course of the park for about 4 hours, stopping at all the big giant snow sculptures and both being "too much shy" to ask anyone to take our picture for us after both of our cameras had a bad attitude of letting us do it ourselves. The sculptures themselves were incredible. They're made by hauling in big cubes of snow and stacking them up inside a wooden frame, and then carving the sculpture out from that. I didn't do a very good job of paying attention to what the various structures were... there was a Korean National something something, an American National something something, a Japanese something castle, and a really cool homage to the Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, among other things. There were also a bunch of different series S of smaller sculptures of various themes, and a section that featured sculptures in an international competition, with teams coming from Sapporo's various sister cities around the world (one of which is Portland, Oregon, by the way). The weather wasn't too cold, but a nice medium snowfall made it extra awesome.
I had a list of things I needed to eat on this trip to Japan, and one of those things was ramen. We hadn't eaten since morning, but were afraid that if we went somewhere to eat, we'd miss seeing things all lit up. Also we were hungry and too lazy to try to hunt down food. Since there were a million vendors selling various things right there at the festival, we found ramen there (mine had crab in it, which is unusual but also AWESOME) and ate outside. Before heading back to Zenibako, we went used DVD hunting (I have music DVDs on in the background pretty much all the time when I'm home), and Miwako bought me Love Letter, one of my favorite movies, which was filmed almost entirely within Otaru (specifically, the main character lives in Zenibako, not far from where Miwako lives). Sadly, there were no Fishmans or Unicorn DVDs to be found this time around.
Doesn't that make you sad?