Sunday, February 21, 2010

Asahikawa Snow Festival

Yeeeeeeeah National Holidays!!!

We had a National Holiday on a Thursday so Ikuya and I took a road trip to Asahikawa to see the final day of their winter festival.

We drove out on Wednesday night to catch the mars-like laser show in Tokiwa Park.

One thing is for sure.... Asahikawa is waaaaaay more freeeeeezin' than Sapporo!!! Luckily they had a bunch of igloos, and ice bars set up where you can warm up in with a hot chocolate, hot coffee or mulled wine....

Like Susukino in Sapporo, Asahikawa had a bunch of ice sculptures spread out around the town.

The next day we went to the Asahikawa Science Center and Planetarium which opened about 2 years ago... If you have a few hours to spare in Asahikawa I definitely recommend it!!! There are heaps of interactive exhibits and rides as well as a great planetarium show.

Video clips from Asahikawa ;-)

We even found a color wheel and had a little girl spin us the colors so we could do a camera shoot ;-)

After getting spinned about and walking on the moon we went for a big hot bowl of the famous Asahikawa miso ramen at Yoshinos... It reminded me of an American diner... we sat at the counter and watched them sweat over huge pots of ramen and bean sprouts.... it was sooooooo good!!!

After filling our bellies with hot ramen we went to Santa Present Park (great name, eh???)

There was barely anyone there... so we practically had the entire Santa hill to ourselves!!! Which is a good thing because I absolutely stink at snowboarding and can't control my direction or speed! ;-0

In the evening we met up with some of the Asahikawa English teachers to watch the final show at the Winter Festival. They had street dancing performances - my favorite was a hip hop group which had a mix of adults, high school kids and even elementary kids... They were rokkkkkin!

After the dancing there was a short break... we wandered the snow fest and watched the kids fly down the snow/ice slides... They also had a bunch of snow sculptures dotted around...

After the break it was time for TAIKO drumming!!!

These crazy guys came out in the minus minus minus below freezin freezin freezin cold in tiny tank tops to drum away!

They were one of the best groups I've seen... They combined traditional taiko drumming with a modern beat. Heaps of fun to watch!

The finale was amazing because the taiko drummers final beat was synced PERFECTLY with the fireworks over the icy dragon! Great end of the night to our awesome getaway in Asahikawa. ;-)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sapporo Snow Festival and Triple Whammy B-day!

On the way to the triple whammy birthday party we went over to Sapporo's Snow Festival.

Last year my Mom came to Sapporo for the 60th anniversary of the festival. This year we wanted to see the festival through kids' eyes so we met up with a sweet Japanese family my Dad and I met randomly when he visited Sapporo.

The festival wasn't as impressive as last year's... but it was heaps of fun to wander around with the kids. I gave the little girl a piggy back ride through the festival. She guided me where to go and kept screaming "DE-KAI!!!!" (HUGE!!!) while pointing at each sculpture... Even though my ears were ringin' by the end she definitely was a little heat pack for my back. ;-)

After the fest we went over to Buddy Buddy's for a fun Triple Whammy Birthday Party with good friends, food and drinks... (and a DELICIOUS homemade cake made by our Japanese teacher!!!)

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

For Ikuya's Birthday we drove to Otaru to see the Snow Light Path Festival.

Hundreds and hundreds of candles are lit in the canal and along the old railway track... The pathways are also filled with snow sculptures, figures, peanut men, tree guys and more... all built by the Otaru locals and other volunteers.

Everything was CHO KAWAIIIIIII (sooooo cute) as always! ;-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Celebrating New Years in Hokkaido!

Even though I miss the sandy warm relaxing beaches of Thailand, it feels good to be back in Sapporo. I really do love this city.

I flew back on a Friday and the following morning I took the train out to Obihiro to see Ikuya’s family and celebrate Oshougatsu (New Years.) My parents had sent a big Christmas package so we had a mini Christmas celebration and attempted to make a gingerbread house with his cousins. The gingerbread house only lasted about 30 minutes before it collapsed - so we all dove in and fought to eat it!!!! Yum!

I also celebrated New Years with MADO – a free Japanese conversation group. They had heaps of food from around the world... Plus dancing, singing, and talent shows...