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72 Hours in Hokkaido

Sapporo Snow Festival & Otaru Music Box Paradise

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View Sapporo, Japan 2007 on ristinw's travel map.

No matter how short the time is, every moment in our life is special. The intensity of every second we spend on the trip will eventually lodge in our memory for a long time or even forever.

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SAPPORO (札幌)
The Snow Festival / 雪祭り yuki matsuri) (1st day of the trip)

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Every year, the Snow Festival attracts many visitors from Japan and other countries to gather at the Odori Park, about two million people come to Sapporo to see the beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures which line Odori Park and the main street in Susukino. In these seven days in February of every year, these statues and sculptures (both large and small) turn Sapporo into a winter dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow.

The Snow Festival began in 1950, when local high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park.Later, the Self-Defense Force joined in and built the very first massive snow sculpture, for which the Snow Festival has become famous for now. The Festival has grown from these humble beginnings to become one of the biggest and most well known of Hokkaido's winter events.

In the afternoon, we arrived in Sapporo. The first place we had been to was the Hokkaido University. Trees covered by snow. Everywhere was white! Very beautiful! Along the way, we met a friendly Japanese girl (Luly is her name) who led us to the destination. Part of the amazing thing of traveling is meeting different kind of people, local people or other travelers, who will make the journey special.

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Palm Tree Site, Hokkaido University

Later, we walked to the Odori Park. There were hundreds of snow statues and snow sculptures along the Park. They were not as huge as I expected. Most of them were medium size, like the picture below.

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You can see from the picture that the snow statues were melting.

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OTARU (小樽)
Music Box Paradise (2nd day of the trip)

Around 9 pm, we caught a rapid train to Otaru. The travel time between Sapporo and Otaru it takes about 30 minutes (¥620.00 per person; for a single trip). Otaru is a port town in western Hokkaido located on the northern tip of the Shiribeshi district. The town was formerly called Otarunai (it means “River of Sands” in Ainu) and was later renamed to Otaru (it means “small barrel” in Japanese).

One of the most popular tourist site in the town is Otaru Canal, which is the symbol of this small city. The gaslights and stone warehouses along the canal producing a beautiful nightscape popular with couples. There are many cafes, museums, glass workshops, restaurants and shops as well as the brewery restaurant belonging to Otaru Beer in this area. Moreover, if you like music boxes, Otaru is a place would definitely satisfy you. If you walk along the town, you will find many music boxes workshops, where hundreds of models are on display, both large and small, including early 19th century antique examples for sale. Also, you can make your own music box according to your preferences! (You can even paint or draw images on the box as well as to choose your favorite music.) This is the funniest part of making a music box!

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The Otaru Canal (afternoon)

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The Otaru Canal (dusk)

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The Otaru Canal (almost dark)

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The Otaru Canal (evening)

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There were hundreds of “ice candle lights” along the canal side making the canal really beautiful.

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The candles were placed into this sort of ice cup.

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Me, looking at the canal

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For me, the canal side is the most attractive site. Beyond that, its detail, every corner of the street, is also very interesting, it makes you want to keep on exploring and exploring, cause you’ll be amazed in every little thing you see. I wish I could stay in Otaru a little bit longer.

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KIRORO SNOW WORLD (キロロスノーワールド)

The next morning we walked to the central bus station and caught the Kiroro bus to the Kiroro Snow World. There are mountains for ski (beginners to professionals) and a snow park in Kiroro Snow World. The entrance fee of the Snow Park it cost ¥500.00 per person.

In a huge snow field, there weren’t other people around, only me and K.
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Inside the snow park, there are snow maze, snow boat, snowmobile, etc.

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This is the snow boat. It cost ¥500.00 per ride. It is fun!

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That day it seemed longer than usual. We got back to the Otaru Canal after the fun time in the Kiroro Snow World. The Otaru Canal is always beautiful. I saw many workers were busy to place the candle along the canalside and were busy to "make snow", the snow statue and the sculpture there were started to melt, so they had to put more snow back to the sculpture. The temperature that day was -1C, not so cold, and I did a stupid thing by placing my hand on the snow with hand gloves off to test how cold it was, within a second, I felt dumb and a horrible pain on my hand.

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Mount Moiwa (藻岩山)
(last day of the trip)

Mount Moiwa is one of several forested, small mountains surrounding the city of Sapporo. There is an observation platform and restaurant on its summit with spectacular day and night time views of the city.
This morning, we got up very early and went to Mount Moiwa before going to the airport. From Susukino, we took Sapporo’s streetcar line to "Ropeway Iriguchi" station (about 20 minutes). From there, we got to the lower station of the Mount Moiwa Ropeway within a 5 minutes walk.

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The ropeway ride is followed by a short ride on a chair lift to the summit. A round trip costs ¥1200.00.

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Me and the black rabbit

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~ the end ~

To view more photos of this trip, please visit the following link:

http://flickr.com/photos/ristinw/sets/72157602956963742/

To view my photos and collections at Featurepics.com:
<a href='http://www.featurepics.com/Authors/Images56029.aspx'><img src='http://www.featurepics.com/Images/FeaturePics_l1.jpg' border='0'></a>

Posted by ristinw 22:23 Archived in Japan

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