Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sapporo Yuki-matsuri

Amid the tumult of events that are still playing out regarding Japan's recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster (boy, that's the trifecta from hell if there ever was one!), I've managed to arrange some positive memories of a trip friends and I took to Hokkaido last month to see the Sapporo Snow Festival. It was really quite a sight to see so much ice sculpted into amazing works of art, and I was equally impressed at how long the sculptures where built to last (something like 3 or 4 weeks)! Upon coming to Japan, I was told that seeing the famous yuki-matsuri in Hokkaido was one of the most-dos during my stay. I can safely second that notion, now that I've crossed that off my list.

Here we (Tom, Vanessa, and I) listen to Rianna (off-camera) as we start off on the train from Aomori City to Hakodate, then Sapporo (4-5 hours total). Or? Here we are being threatened by pen-wielding Rianna while I do my best Dave Grohl impression.
A winter scene in Sapporo, leading to the festival grounds.
"No me molestes!"
Wildest. Karaoke. Banner. Ever!
When we got to the festival, we heard rock music playing and "Ooh"s and "Aah"s emitting from the crowd. Here's why:

"God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaur … ice sculptures."
(Wanna see 'em move? Okay, maybe not. But the camera does!)

Dimetrodon! (Yup. I'm a big dinosaur geek :p)
And further down along the evolutionary chain.
Right around lunch time we caught an interesting Disney-inspired performance:

Chow time!
After lunch, Tom eagerly volunteered for a taste test. Hope you like shishamo, Tom!

My favorite scene. A Chinese temple stretches into the background, full of depth and detail. Looks like you could really go there.
Closer up, showing the detail of the steps and owl's wing.
Wolves with the Great Wall running up the hill behind them.
So intricate…

A massive scene populated with cartoon-style characters.
Reminds me of the Transamerica Pyramid in SF.
Mother and child! (Shh! Not so loud. He's crying, I think…?)
The observation and radio tower overlooking the festival grounds.
How pleasant!
The whole gang relaxes in a great little American-style pub we ran into. (left to right) Boku, Rianna, Vanessa, Valerie, James, and Tom (while Courtney, always too shy for a picture, takes the shot. Way to go Court!).