"This is your captain speaking. According to the latest information, there's a heavy snowstorm happening in Tokyo now. We are expecting some turbulence during landing. Please fasten your seat belt..." And I can't remember the rest of his announcement as I was feeling nervous.
Then the plane started to shake uncontrollably in the middle of snowstorm. We were getting closer to the ground when a strong wind pushed and the plane tilted far to the left. I could feel the fear around me. Some thoughts were rushing into my mind while I closed my eyes. Are we going to crash? but I want to see the snow festival. Oh and I want to eat the famous ramen and fresh scallops before I die, please. Then the plane landed hard in Narita airport. Gosh ! I really hate air plane turbulence more than I hate cockroaches. But seriously, I don't understand how could I think about eating ramen and scallops during my live or die situation.
After 5 hours layover in Tokyo, I flied and finally landing safe and sound in Sapporo the biggest city in Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan. A lot of my friends asked me why I travel to Japan during winter when the weather is extremely cold? For the Sapporo Snow Festival that is ! Actually my trip to Sapporo was already fixed for my family Christmas holiday. We've bought the ticket and everything then my Dad got a stroke that we had to lose most of the expenses we've paid. As stubborn as he is, even though not 100% recovered yet, he insist to visit Sapporo before our visa expired. So there we were :)
Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is one of most famous Japan's winter events. It's held every February for a week. Every year, about two million people come to Sapporo to see a large number of splendid snow statues and ice sculptures which line Odori Park, the grounds at Tsudome, and the main street in Susukino. The main site is located in 1.5 km long Odori park where huge famous ice sculptures are exhibited at. They are lit up daily until 10pm. Many concerts and events are held using the sculptures as their stage. How cool is that!
|mochi making ice sculpture|
|large ice sculpture as a performing stage|
|snow slides for the kids|
|my sista n hubby with my fav ice sculpture|
|lit up ice sculpture|
Besides beautiful ice sculptures, there are ample food stalls along the Odori park. You can sample from ramen, sushi, grilled seafood, curry, grilled corn, sweets, hot drinks to beer and a lot more. Definitely too many to choose from. In some occasions during admiring the ice sculptures, I smell something delicious then follow my nose to find the source and ignoring the amazing ice sculptures :p
|one of the food stall|
|the food seller|
To see smaller ice sculptures, I headed to Susukino site where they held the ice sculptures contest. More than 100 ice sculptures are exhibited along the Ekimae-dori (Station Avenue) between Minami 4 and Minami 6. There's also an ice bar where you can enjoy some hot alcoholic beverages.
|ice sculpture with fishes in it|
I stayed in Susukino area which is Sapporo's largest entertainment district and also one of the largest red districts in Japan. You can see sexy girls posters and love hotels in most part of that area. But fret not! It's actually safe to walk around even at night. I visited one of the city landmark, Sapporo Raumen Yokocho or ramen alley to sample the famous Hokkaido ramen. I'm not a ramen expert but it was obviously one of best ramen I've eaten. For more details, I will write another food porn post about Japanese food :)
|the famous Ramen Alley|
|a sexy pepper shaker :p|
|delicious Kaisen Ramen (Seafood) to end the chilly day|
If you ask me if it's worth to visit Sapporo during harsh winter weather? I'd say abso-fucking-lutely ! Sapporo Snow Festival is one event that you should put on your bucket list. I would do it again next time when I have the chance. But maybe I'll prepare some sleeping pills for the bumpy plane ride.
This is an amateur video of the view from plane before landing in Hokkaido. I was trying out the video mode on my new camera, still not sure how to adjust. If you see some blurry parts and lost focus, don't worry.....it's not your eyes. That's just me being a dummy, hehehe :p
Tips: Make sure to wear a proper pair of winter shoes or at least slip resistant shoes since everywhere is covered in snow and very slippery. I've seen many victims fell down on the street and even a guy that has to be rushed to hospital