I was joking about it but I think it will really take a year to finish this story about my winter trip in Japan! (it still remains a few cities to talk about).
I am really sorry that it’s been taking me so long if you’ve been counting on me to prepare your winter trip but we never know, you might be ready for winter 2020!
Let’s not wait more, today we are leaving Akita to go to Sapporo, located in the north, on the Japanese island Hokkaido.
To go to Sapporo
Leaving from Tazawako station, we had to change our train twice during a 7-hour train trip: once in Morioka, then at Shin Hakodate station to finally get to Sapporo, my train tickets still booked with my JR Pass.
If your departure point is somewhere else, no worries, Sapporo is well connected.
For the hotels, we booked in October for February but occupancy was already high (and expensive!).
So we stayed at the Best Western Sapporo Odori Koen located in front of Odori park: very small room (we almost slept in the middle of our luggages!) but clean and perfectly located to access all the activities of the snow festival.
Sapporo Snow Festival
In front of the Osamu Tezuka ice artwork
The snow festival called « Yuki matsuri » is organized every early February. In 2018, it was from the 1st to the 12th of February. Only two days were enough to enjoy the event as we wished. Book an extra night if you would like to explore the city more.
To stay in Sapporo during the 10 days of festival seems way too long unless you are a sledge addict, contemplate artworks for hours or you are a member of the team participating to the international festival of ice carving.
The festival opens in 3 different areas of the city, each of them accessible during a certain time of the matsuri.
- Odori park
To my point of view, the most interesting is the one in the Odori park: it’s where the night animations are done, and the ice sculptures are shown, all more impressive than the last.
At night, the sculptures are animated thanks to light projections: the crowd is around so is the coldness! Make sure to stay warm to not end up frozen as a sculpture of the festival.
Chance meeting with Instagram star Marutaro !
Each year, different themes are suggested: here, they paid tribute to the mangaka Osamu Tezuka with this immense construction of Astro Boy, Princess Knight and Kimba the White Lion.
A huge Final Fantasy XIV fresco covered with snow was also showcased.
I think, the most impressive part was the area dedicated to the sculptures contest where countries compete against each other: watch all these team working, polishing every details of the creation and showing unlimited creativity was quite fascinating.
The winner was the Thai team
Besides the pleasure of the eyes, we can also enjoy the various food stalls in the streets! Ramen, doughnuts, hot drinks: the ambiance is as warm as a Christmas market… a bit more exotic!… with a touch of kawaii with all the mascots ready to take a selfie!
Sapporo TV Tower and the city mascot “Terebi-Tosan”
- Susukino quarter
Another part of the festival is located in the neighbourhood called Susukino, not very welcoming but worth to explore to admire the ice sculptures.
The pieces are not showcased properly enough in the middle of this street considering the detailed work done for each of them. But it’s worth to be seen.
- Tsudome park
We didn’t visit the third and last area of the festival: Tsudome, mainly dedicated to sliding sports. But I am mentioning it in case you are more athletic than we are.
As per the city, we only visited the neighbourhoods around the festival and crossed the old park of the governor palace followed by a small snow storm.
I don’t have much recommendation in terms of visit as our main objectif was the snow festival but I am sure people who loves beers will visit the museum.
My yummy addresses in Sapporo
- RAMEN SHINGEN (8 Nishi, Minami-6jo, Chuo-ku)
The ramen are the food speciality in Sapporo. I had read on the Internet about the restaurant called Ramen Shingen and we decided to try if the ramen were as good as said.
The line in the cold was very long, so was the wait inside before eating the Holy Grail.
Indeed it was very good, but does it worth the wait? Not so sure. So if you pass by and don’t see a long line (or nonexistent) just go. Otherwise, it should depend on your love of ramen.
Curry ramen and gyozas
- DONABE HANBA-GU HOKUTOSEI (5-20 Minami 2 Jo Nishi, Chuo-ku,in front of Grids hotel in the Tanukikoji gallery)
This one was our favourite. Very simple, the hot stews served with rice comforted us like never before.
Not very photogenic but sooo good !
- KINOTOYA BAKE (Sapporo JR station, East entrance)
For the sweet tooth, these cheesecake style pies are perfect. Light and gourmet at the same time. We may find this shop somewhere else in Japan but give it a try if you are close by. It’s very good. (English translation by Quiterie)