Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sapporo Winter Highlights

It's finally spring. I know this because I can go outside without a coat, and there are crocuses blooming. I've woken up from hibernation... and realized that it's been a very long time since my last blog post. So before we get to posting pictures of pretty flowers, here are some of the highlights from the winter.

If you're interested in more winter-related pictures, visit our "winter" web album here.

We went cross country skiing in January with two of our colleagues.

Destination: frozen waterfall!
You can't see them in the picture, but Keith is in fact on skis! I was excited...

Keith survived!
The roads on the way home were a little crazy.
There's lots of snow in Sapporo during the winter. Here's a picture from close to school. This is a park; we have lots of little parks in Sapporo because there needs to be a place to dump the snow. The swing set is almost completely buried...

In February, there are two major snow-related events in our area. One is the world famous Sapporo Snow Festival (雪祭り) and the other is the Otaru Snow Light Path (雪あかりの路), about 40 minutes away by train. We went to the Otaru event first... and I can't remember ever being that cold! (Sometime on the way home in the train, I was finally able to feel my feet again...)

There are a couple of main sections of the town decorated by snow candles, although many shops have simple snow candles outside. We first walked along the canal.

My favorite of the snow candles were the owls.

This display was labeled 希望の丘 (hill of hope).
The next day, we went to the Sapporo Snow Festival! These snow sculptures were really impressive--you can get a bit of the scale by the people standing right in front of the castle. Snow Festival takes place in a major downtown park--and the sculptures are taller than the trees. (Once again, it was very cold!)

We stayed until after dark. Last time (2 years ago), we wimped out and went home early. But it's well worth staying, since the sculptures are lit up at night!

Mr. Walrus was my favorite part of Snow Festival. He was part of a sculpture of different sea animals.
Taj Mahal.
Tsugaru Castle
Now for something completely different. In Japan, there is a tradition of giving homemade chocolate to friends and significant others for Valentine's Day. Only women give chocolate; men reciprocate a month later on White Day. Here's my very first attempt at truffles, which I gave to my friends at school, our teachers, and, of course, Keith.

The green ones are tea flavored, and the others are salt caramel flavored.
It's April; is it Spring yet?

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