Friday, February 14, 2014

Sapporo Yukimatsuri

We've been meaning to go to the Yukimatsuri (snow festival) for a couple years, and things finally lined up. It happens in park spaces in downtown Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido. What is Sapporo like? Here's a taste of the streets (not pictured: walking on icy sidewalk, partially blinded by wind and snow), the food, and some of the things we've seen.

We arrived for the very beginning of the festival, so the good part was getting a bunch of photos without having to fight ridiculous crowds of people. The bad part was that not everything was open for business the first night and some of the sculptures were finished after we left. It evens out, I think.

The sculptures were impressive, as you would expect them to be. (To see a larger version, click the gear at the top right and select "view full resolution".)

The larger ones had colored lights, a couple had light shows at night. This one, representing a historic mausoleum in India, took the idea of a light show and ran with it, going full on with projection mapping.

My favorite part of the sculptures may have been seeing the ones that weren't finished yet. Some of the country-representative, car-sized sculptures were finished after we left, but there was an ice sculpting competition down a major road that had a 24-hour deadline, so we could see the Before and After versions.

There was another location of sculptures, sharing grounds with a pavilion of vendor and company-sponsored booths and bouncy castles for kids, plus some outdoor activities.

Sculptures, snow-covered shrubs, and a couple class field trips. Out of sight is the Cup Noodle-sponsored train for kids.

These sculptures are a little rougher, not having the buildings around to shelter them from the elements.

Cheerleader hippos?

The one on the far right is a weeping person wearing a comedy mask. Pretty deep for a snow sculpture.

They had snow tubing! Just like I was a kid, other than the perfectly manicured lanes and 45-minute wait in line.

The other thing we did that I didn't get photos of was riding in an inflatable raft pulled by a snowmobile around a quarter mile loop. It was fun, but pictures would have been mostly white and incredibly blurry.

What else does one do in Sapporo, you might ask? Take a tour of the Ishiya Chocolate Factory! At first glance, it's a little weird. But then you start the tour and it's pretty neat. Then is gets weird again, until the courtyard doesn't seem out of place at all.

That last photo of the Clione (Sea Angels) doesn't quite capture the weirdness in this aquarium. Video does a better job.

And this concludes our tour of the Ishiya Chocolate Factory and this description of our trip to the Sapporo Yukimatsuri.

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