Yuki Matsuri! Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

Meet my friends!! This post is only about, oh, 3.5 months late, but better late than never? The next post will be my take on the Sapporo Snow Fest (easily one of my favorite memories from this year!) with even more pics. In this post – meet the group of people that have become the reason I can’t even bear to think about leaving Japan: the Yamaballas! (yeah…. we really do call ourselves that…… forgive us, please?!)

Courtesy of Kris Nand, Pretty Person and Nihongo Speaker Extraordinaire

(these are excerpts from a collaboration piece for the AJET Yamaguchi-ken magazine – ZenZen – about our collective trip to Sapporo, Hokkaido in February for the annual Snow Festival. ‘KNand’ wrote the majority of the descriptions. The rest comes from the speakers listed by their first names. Enjoy!)

King Kong in snow. This was one of the snow sculpture highlights!

BRR! It’s cold in here! I said there must be some Yamaguchers in the at-mos-phere!

…Or we could just be in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

In February, a large troupe of us (9 in total) headed up to Sapporo to see Yuki Matsuri, the snow festival held annually in Sapporo. There were massive displays of snow and ice sculptures, some large enough to take on actual buildings, and all were made with intricate attention to detail. Despite the frigid temperatures, people bundled up (we were quick to realize that one layer of socks was not enough) and admired the beautiful snow creations, while scarfing down delectable, hot festival food such as crab soup and ramen.

Callie: Yay, Sapporo!

Kris: Sapporo was COLD. This is coming from a Canadian. It reminded me of home!

Sebastian: I agree with Knand, it really did remind me of home, especially the crisp cold air, pretty refreshing.

(this included wearing more than two pairs of socks, カイロ in the boots and more than one sweater)

Tiffany Y.: Hey guys, remember when America conquered Canada? I believe you are called the Northern United States now…

Callie and I prepare for battle in an igloo outside of the Bier Garden at the site of the Great Canadian-American War of 2010.

Snowball fights are fun!

Sebastian: Truth. And remember how Canada snow-job-ed America?

(after a peaceful feast of mouth-watering lamb yakiniku, a certain Hawaiian [tTiff] opened fire on an innocent Canadian [Kris], pummeling her with snowballs. Tired of being the passive country, Canada retaliated, thus beginning a war of epic proportions between America and Canada. Despite being outnumbered (two against four), Canada fought valiantly but in the end, forfeited. Days later, Canada would dominate America at ice hockey in the Winter Olympics and win the most gold medals, fully “serving” the red, white and blue nation)

Sebastian: Eric’s ribs should be mentioned, as should Tiff’s wheelchair and 80s karaoke night…

(there were a notable number of fatalities (okay, fine, injuries), but not to worry, all of these stemmed from being injured in the Guch. Eric decided to try snowboarding for the first time on what probably is some of the best powder in the world. Unfortunately, his first fall turned out to be his last fall after landing on a previously broken rib. He never made it to the bottom.)

Eric: Hey, I think it’s only one rib, thank you. Thriller karaoke. That was pretty ballin’. And the crab. The crab was amazing. Remember Christina’s crab that she wanted to eat from the trash can?

Trash can crab. YUMMM!!

Kris: I think that shows how amazing the crab was in Hokkaido. Christina even wanted the puke-like remains.

(At the festival, there was a trashcan with the remnants of a massive crab in it. For some reason, Christina commented on how delicious it looked, unbeknownst that moments before, everyone was gagging at how disgusting it looked)

Christina: To defend myself, I was commenting on the fact that it was the biggest crab I’d seen, and THUSLY it looked “amazing”. I have not, and will not, ever eat crab from a garbage can. For the record, the crab that wasn’t in a trash can looked even more delicious.

Thriller Karaoke. Seb and I took it over with Meatloaf and Billy Joel.

Ryan: Oh yeah, Thriller karaoke! I don’t know what was better, the guys synchronized dancing, Eric’s rendition of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” all that alcohol, or Eric and Perry’s (Kris’s Canadian JET friend in Hokkaido) crab vs monkey walk afterward.  It was probably the alcohol.

Cyndi: 2 thumbs up for hot cocoa with Kahlua. Best festival stall of all time.

Callie: Shout-out to Jimmy! Our very awesome hostel owner and new bff.

Ryan: Holy crap, Jimmy’z hostel was awesome! So clean, small, cheap, best location…amazing! Not bad for my first experience in a hostel. I would have been happy so long as I didn’t have to crap in a bucket.

Kris: It was surprisingly really warm! Then again, they should know how to keep

Callie and me with Jimmy, the owner of our great hostel, Jimmy's Backpackers. Our group nearly took up the entire place!

warm up there. They take after Canadians. 😉

Eric: “Wao. Gaijinsanda.” I didn’t see as many gaijin as I thought I would. I think I liked that, though.

(when we were leaving a restaurant, a little boy piped, “Wow, gaijinsanda!”. Apparently seeing so many of us rocked his world)

Callie: Though there weren’t as many gaijin as we expected, there were enough that Cyndi almost punched me for playing the “There’s a gaijin!” game everytime I saw one.

Cyndi: Omg, and then to make fun of Callie, I started pointing out all the really unique gaijin (“there’s a gaijin wearing a green shirt!” “there’s a black gaijin!” ((really really rare)))–until finally I said, “Hey Callie –there’s a GAY gaijin!” and all his friends heard, turned and glared at me like I’m homophobic. Oops! Swear, I’m not, friends! I felt awful!

Ryan: I was a witness to that whole incident. I saw it coming right before Cyndi finished her sentence (because I was thinking the exact same thing). Those guys were pissed! I was waiting for shoes and pink scarfs to start flying. It was like watching a person get hit by a car while crossing the street: you don’t know if you should yell out a warning or sit back and watch what happens. I guess I chose the later.

Hozumi: Soup curry with broccoli and natto! ❤ And green onions –can’t forget that. And all the ramen we ate!

Ryan: No joke! I ate ramen 4 times in like 24 hours and it was amazing every time

Tiff, Seb and chocolate bananas. Sadly, they looked better than they tasted.

Tiffany Y: I ate a chocolate covered banana on a stick. In a wheelchair. During the coldest month of the year. In Sapporo. Twas delicious.

(You gotta eat to stay warm! Tiff was subjected to 2 hours in a wheelchair at the festival after her ankle was destroyed during her Oshima marathon. She was our little cripple.<3)

Ryan: Let’s recap all the things Cyndi lost or almost lost on this short trip, shall we? First, her brand new snow hat while riding on the ski lift. Second, her cellphone while attempting to conquer the mountain (later recovered at lost and found). Third, her bus ticket back to the station from the mountain (later recovered in her bag). Fourth, her cellphone, again!!! (almost left on the bus seat)

Cyndi: bahahaha The best part is that after all that, I waited at the bus station with Callie for 30 minutes for the next bus to Shimonoseki. When the bus arrived, I realized that I had lost my bus ticket!

Eric: I can’t get over how pretty that place was at night. I didn’t get any good pictures of it but walking through Hokkaido University’s campus was really pretty.

Coming down the snow slide!! SO much fun!

Christina: One of my favorite memories is the time where everyone else was incredibly excited to go tubing down a giant man-made hill of snow while I spent the entire hour in line imagining all the ways in which I could die during the 7-second ride.  It turns out that I am kind of a wimp!

Hozumi: Tubing in a winter wonderland! Knand lost her hat on the way down.

Kris: Yeah, we got to go down a massive snow slide in a black tube!!! Totally awesome. When my hat came off, someone had to climb up the slide to get it…

Ryan: I wish we could have ridden on that gigantic snow slide more! Too bad there were so many people waiting in line. Though, it was amusing watching people bust their ass on the ice as they joined the line. It was like a funny intermission to a show before the grand finale. I can say this because our whole group busted ass in the same spot.

Hozumi: The guy who put me in the line was like, “Are you scared? Ok, awesome! Let’s put you in the scary one [on the steepest slide].” I’m glad that Eric didn’t fall on his rib (or his face) while sliding down on the tube.

Eric: I am glad I could keep my face, all things considered.

Sapporo Clock Tower. Awesomely disappointing!

Cyndi: Personally, I’ll never forget the joy of my own disappointment at seeing the Sapporo Clock Tower – voted “Japan’s Third Most Disappointing Attraction.”

Callie: It lived up to its name!

Cyndi: It’s pretty… in a very, “That’s it?” kind of way. The ferris wheel was also pretty cool. We searched for over an hour to find it – it’s on top of a building, but the view of the entire city, with the mountains in the distance, is sick.

Callie: Which reminds me of the view from the top of the first run we did at Teine. I’ve seen some beautiful mountains in Colorado, but I’ve never stood on top of a mountain and seen both mountains and ocean for as far as I can see.

Kris: It was really breathtaking. Snowboarding was definitely a highlight! I can’t wait to go again next year! 😀

So this concludes our random reflection on Sapporo. It may seem like not much went down, but the food, the snow, the lights and the friends (of course) made it an amazing trip!

Ferris wheel view

Preparing to take on the slopes. From the left: Ryan, Kris, Christina, Hozumi, Callie; in back - Eric and me (Tiff was out injured and Seb stayed with her)

On snowboarding days, we call ourselves the Yamafallassss. (Well, Christina and I do, anyway!)

The view from the top of Teine, a former winter Olympics site.

Beer garden!! Callie and I ate here twice it was so good! It's tabihodai/nomihodai for 90 minutes (all you can eat and drink) lamb yakiniku (grill-it-yourself meat). DELICIOUS.

The girls, with fun-happy-smiley-care-bear-type-snow-sculpture-thing (from the left: Callie, Kris, Hozumi, me, Christina)

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~ by C on June 7, 2010.

One Response to “Yuki Matsuri! Sapporo Snow Festival 2010”

  1. This is probably my most favorite posts ever because it reminded me of such a happy time. ❤ Loved the pics!

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