Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Adventures in the frozen north

Last week I hopped on a ferry with about 17 other JETs, and headed up to Hokkaido for the annual Sapporo Snow Festival. Hokkaido has been number one on my list of places to see in Japan for ages now, and the trip was well worth it. The snow festival was amazing - there were hundreds of snow and ice sculptures, ranging from the tiny to the enormous, the comical to the awe-inspiring. I've stuck some photos of the best ones below, so you can see what I'm on about for yourself.

In hindsight, it may have been a mistake to book a ferry up there instead of a plane. The fare was incredibly cheap - 15,000 yen for a return ticket, or about 75 pounds - but the journey there took a wearying 21 hours. And that's without including the train and bus rides to and from the ferry terminal.

On the plus side though, it gave me time to finish The Da Vinci Code, so you could say it was time well spent (By the way, if you haven't read The Da Vinci Code yet, I highly recommend it, as long as you haven't got anything important to do for a couple of days. Once you pick it up, there's no way you'll be able to put it down. Bloody hell, now I sound like an ad executive... It's a shame no-one's paying me to write this).

Sapporo itself was an amazing city. It's relatively young in terms of history - Hokkaido itself wasn't colonised by the Japanese until the latter half of the 19th century - but it doesn't seem to suffer from its lack of historical buildings. There's no ancient temples or castles, but it doesn't really matter, because the city has such a good atmosphere. It reminded me a little of Barcelona - it has that same young and vibrant feel about it. Minus the stunning Gaudi architecture of course.

It was great to be back in a city again - I love Asahi, but the nightlife leaves a little to be desired: there's only one bar (Bar New Friend), which serves only whisky and water, and which harbours an exclusive clientele of karaoke-singing pensioners. Compared to the night life in Sapporo, Asahi may as well be on the moon.


Blogger Phoenix said...

RE: The Da Vinci Code:
Have you read Angels and Demons yet? If not, I could give you my copy (unless I've already given it to the FIA - I'll have to check when I get home).

9:20 am  
Blogger Lewis said...

Yeah, that would be great Phoenix! They included the first few pages of Angels and Demons at the back of The Da Vinci Code, and it looks really good.

10:26 am  
Blogger The Funky Drummer said...

Good work Lewis, you've documented our little excursion rather well. Some nice pics too.

word to ya mama

12:58 pm  

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