Sapporo, a Winter Wonderland

Every year for a week in early February there is a Snow Festival in Sapporo. Millions of people come to see massive snow sculptures the size of buildings. I’ve heard that it is incredible and my friend Kelly and I didn’t want to miss it.Sapporo is on Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, so we got to fly there. I miss flying so much and I was a very happy girl. Though I would have been happier if we were on the Pikachu airplane that was behind ours.

The land of corn, crab, and beer. I like it already.

There are three parts of the festival: ice sculptures, snow sculptures, and an area for sledding that was a little outside of the city. Our hotel was right around the corner from the ice sculptures, so we jumped right in.There weren’t very many “normal” ice sculptures. Everyone had a gimmick. I particularly liked the seafood frozen inside the sculpture. Though I have to say that the creator of this didn’t have to work too hard. Lazy.Disney’s here!For a relaxing time, make it Suntory time.My mom would be thrilled. I found a bear!I don’t think this car would last very long in Phoenix.Is this a joke? We fly to Sapporo and who do we find?? Cole Fucking Olvera. You have GOT to be kidding me. But without Cole’s being a complete asshole, Kelly and I wouldn’t be friends. Nothing brings two people together faster than the hatred of a common enemy.Cheers to that!Oh look! Another fake Eiffel Tower. We have a bright orange one in Tokyo and it’s a real eye sore. This one is not much better, though considerably smaller. Very original, Japan.It is kind of cool (and pretty ironic) that the smoking section is made of ice, but what the hell is the point of a smoking section that isn’t enclosed?Domo wanted some beer.They love characters in Japan – doesn’t matter what it is. Why not have a cow walking around a snow festival?I would love to read this man’s job description.This is Odori Street, the main Snow Festival site. There’s everything from ice skating, a ski jump, and about 10 blocks of snow sculptures all the way down the street. Kelly’s camera takes fantastic pictures, so I stole a lot of hers.Snowboarders were doing some jumps, but we quickly lost interest. Tough crowd.Then came the massive snow sculptures.I’m talking massive. They were about 5 stories high. It was really incredible to see.I am so impressed.A huge ice sculpture and of course some more obscure characters.Very popular anime called One Piece.MICKEY!!! MICKEY’S HERE!! I was hoping for a Mickey sculpture! I was jumping up and down when I saw this.And then it started playing “Be Magical” for DisneySea’s 10th anniversary! Leave it to Disney to be the one snow sculpture with great production value.A matryoshka stand. Why not?

The last block of sculptures were all made by normal people, not sponsors. That means they started to got really strange.Well that’s violent.Pinocchio’s looking a little weird, but I still love him.Ok, sure.Happy Feet!What is a may pole doing here? I feel like I was asking “why?” the whole vacation.Best store ever.The next day we went to the sledding park! They had all sorts of slides and they were SO much fun! And of course it snowed that day, so I was pretty soaked.Eeeee!One of our friends, Kaitlyn, was there with her family too. They were on the same flight and in the same hotel as us. It was a lot of fun to have them there! This was us before going on a huge raft pulled by a snowmobile. I could have done that all day long.A picture while we were tubing.So freaking cute.After a day of sledding it was time to go in, dry off, and have some beer!

Some really old beer bottles.

I want this poster.Ordering beer through a vending machine. So Japanese.Before……AfterChristmas trees still up at the Sapporo factory.Onesies are a very popular, almost mandatory, piece of clothing in Japan. So naturally we all bought one. That night Kelly and I spent nearly 4 hours at the onsen. Some of the baths were outside and it was so amazing to sit in a hot bath in the snow. I love onsens so much.The next day was the coldest, but still not as cold as we thought. It was so warm that a lot of the sculptures were melting.There was a 3 day international snow sculpture competition.  It was really cool to see them on the first and last days to see how far they’d come.  This was one of America’s two sculptures, Hawaii.  God, I want to go to Hawaii again soon. I miss it.A moose! I know who my mom would pick as the winner. We think it looks like an Ikea box.This is Hong Kong’s. It was my favorite as well as the judges – they got 1st place.This is Portland’s.  It sucks.Another shot of the castle.The Taj Majal.  I thought it was Agrabah… wishful thinking.A little snow isn’t going to keep this wheelchair away.One last look at Mickey. Thanks for funding our trip, buddy!Sapporo has really fresh salmon and crab, so I really wanted to find sushi. We found a little hole in the wall off the beaten path and ended up being the only ones in the place the whole time. We sat at the bar and had our own personal sushi chef who was really nice and attempted to speak English for us. Kelly doesn’t normally like sushi, so she tried some of mine before jumping in herself, but she liked it enough to order a bunch of her own! Thank goodness I’ve learned all of the fish I like in Japanese because there was no English menu and we would have been lost. I’m pretty proud of myself. Sapporo didn’t let us down, the sushi was delicious.We took one last stroll past the ice sculptures that night.  There were some new ones like this.This looked really great lit up.One of the guys making a sculpture just handed this to me for a picture. Thank you!

My mom’s friend at work, Eri, is from Sapporo and her family still lives there. When they found out we were coming, they wanted to meet us for lunch. They took us to have traditional Genghis Khan (grilled lamb).You cook it yourself at the table (a very common thing to do here), so Kelly and I were ready with our bibs.Raw lamb: regular flavor, salt, and soy sauce.The grill at the table. Mmmboy!Eri’s family and us after lunch.Miyu is Eri’s adorable niece. She kept grabbing my hair because she had never seen a blonde person in her life and was very mesmerized. It was really nice to get to meet them.After 3 nights, it was time to go back to Tokyo for one more month of being a cowgirl. Guess what plane we got on the way back?? YES!!Seriously? In the same row!? Look at him pretending to sleep. He literally just sat down – no way is he asleep. We won’t go away if you close your eyes, Cole. Nice try.The Pikachu plane that I was so happy to get to ride home.  It was a wonderful little getaway from Tokyo, E-Village, and work. Just what I needed. I’m so glad that we got to go!

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