Snow BEST – Sapporo Snow Festival 2010 (part deux)

J-Fans drinking in their – pop

boys are jumping –

the Eiffel Tower

is so blue – in Sapporo,

1950s  ice skates swirl

like the snowflakes splashing my tongue-


Snow Fest 2010 has just begun.

Gosh. Well, I fell in love with winter at Yuki Matsuri, the Sapporo Snow Festival. It was negative 10 and 15 degrees, but I felt warm wrapped in my blanket of winter. There were nine of us – I call us the Yamaballas – a name so glib it has stuck. There were nine of us – and we filled Sapporo as fully as did Jimmy’s Backpackers, on the edge of Odori Park.

Tiff and I join forces to become the newest villain around: the Two-Headed Giant Snowman!

I’ve tried for three weeks to write about our trip, but all I have is strikethrough marks and discarded pages. You see, Snow Fest was so brilliant and so charmed with the purity of a new snow and all the forgiveness it brings that it seems the memory has burrowed its way into a very cavernous, visceral place in my heart. I can’t think about it without smiling, and I can’t smile about it without missing it, and I can’t miss it without getting misty-eyed about it,  and I can’t do any of that without tasting supernaturally sized Hokkaido snowflakes on my tongue and hearing the Hawaiian Tiff Yoshi say, “But I thought snowflakes were as big as the ones we made in school out of paper.”


These snowflakes were just about that magical.

Callie and I chug alongside Thomas the Tank

There’s a freshness in the air there that made me laugh every time I tumbled on the ice-coated streets and gave me the giggles when I frolicked my way through a foot of snow to pose with a bigger than life-sized snowcature of Thomas the Tank Engine. I swear there’s a certain city-sized good karma that runs through Sapporo’s streets: the ramen makes you close your eyes and moan it’s that good; the karaoke sells itself with a kitschy “Dr. Horrible”-esque monster front; the chapel is so monstrously disappointing that it charms your frown right off.

The ever-popular Michael Jackson sculpture.

It coats you, this winter wonderland. And when you’ve seen the stories-high ice sculpted temple and grabbed your crotch in a classic MJ pose beside his face carved out of powder and drank kahlua hot chocolate while watching a traditional dance on a shrine of ice, it’s hard to think there’s anything you haven’t seen.

Then you’re on a train and a bus and standing at the top of the not-so-beginner slope at Teine, the site of 1972 winter Olympics, and the world just. stops. moving.

This slope was NOT a bunny trail, but the view was worth all the tumbles!

There are snowflakes dancing on your cheeks, and if you’re me you’ve lost your hat riding up the ski lift, but all you can see is the ocean spreading out so far in front of you like a baby blue sky on land. It’s framing the endless snow-capped peaks in front of you, and all you can think is that something, someone, sometime, somewhere happens just right and this was the result. So you do the only thing you can – you stare without blinking and swear you’ll always keep this picture alive because not much else in this life can possibly be karmically gifted enough to be this damn perfect.

Then, if you’re me, you tumble down the slop and land face first in a snowdrift.

So, you see, Hokkaido was perfection. Sapporo Snow Fest, this trip as we experienced it, was once in a lifetime. How do you tell that story?

Performers (very, very cold performers I imagine!) dance on a shrine made of ice. (Disclaimer – the video is really loud – you may want to turn down your volume before starting it!)

Mad powder! (Did I sound like a real snowboarder just then?) I only look so... right up because the trail was mostly flat. Now that's my kind of bunny slope!

The festival is divided between two sites. This one is much smaller and houses the ice sculptures.


Young girls singing on a giant Mickey and Minnie snowlpture

After a day of snowboarding, we somehow managed to conjure up the energy for karaoke.Callie and I rap to Eminem's "Lose Yourself"

In the giant ferris wheel that looks over Sapporo. You know, a lot of Japanese cities have these. It's like a thing.

DANPA. Which is panda, spelled inside out. There is more danpa stuff in Hokkaido than snow. Sapporo is covered in it. Every time we saw/heard merchandise, banners, whispered nothings about it - I burst out with, "WHAT IS DANPA?" I got my answer. It eventually becomes a part of you, and you just get it. Danpa is Sapporo. Sapporo is Danpa.


~ by C on June 14, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: