The Sapporo Snow Festival
By Renata Janney
The yearly trip to the Sapporo Snow Festival in February is the biggest trip organised by FuJET. Each year JETs head for the coldest prefecture in Japan for snow sculptures, skiing and various other activities. If you haven’t gone on this trip, it is highly recommended – maybe next year?
About 29 ALTs, my husband and I included, participated in the FuJET trip to Sapporo’s Snow festival in mid-February. We went to Hokkaido together by ferry, which, for land lubbers like me, was a new experience! After I got used to the rocking and the endless black night outside our windows, I had a good time! Both our ferries to and from Hokkaido had restaurants, onsen, TVs, and one even had a karaoke lounge! It might have taken a long time, but it was nice to travel in style.
Once we arrived in Sapporo and settled into our hotel, we had our only combined activity in Sapporo – an all-you-can-eat meal at the Sapporo Beer Hall! Though I wasn’t interested in the beer, I got to try out Genghis Khan – lamb and vegetables cooked on your table. After the dinner, however, everyone could do what they want. A lot of people took advantage of the ski slopes near the city, or visited the chocolate factory in Sapporo. Our hotel was only a few blocks from the main site of the Snow Festival, so Tyson and I visited the sculptures throughout our weekend. There were some huge sculptures of palaces, but I really loved the smaller snow sculptures of everything from hinaningyou (traditional Japanese dolls) to Totoro! We were also really close to the Maruyama Zoo! I loved seeing some of the Hokkaido wildlife there, as well as some cute polar bears and the tropical bird exhibit.
Tyson and I also went to the town of Otaru, a port city about one hour from Sapporo. While it was a lot busier than I thought it would be, I loved seeing the lanterns they had strung out over the canals. Tyson and I also had a fun time getting lost and we ate at a kaisendon (sashimi over rice) restaurant off the beaten path.
In case you couldn’t tell, one of the best parts of this trip for me was the food! Hokkaido is famous for its ramen, and Tyson and I had the opportunity to eat in Ramen Alley, a small street with 17 ramen shops. The area is also famous for its crab, and I got to try a lot of crab dishes – one of my favorites was crab miso soup!
To sum up, Tyson and I had a great time in Sapporo! The town has a very different vibe from other Japanese cities, since the area was only settled in the 19th century. I was worried about the cold and the snow, but as long as I bundled up I stayed warm! If you have the chance to visit the festival, I recommend that you take it!