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12 February 2008 @ 09:20 pm
Hokkaido a go-go!!  
Hokkaido!! Leaving at the crack of dawn (actually, before the crack of dawn! I mean 4:30 am) on Saturday, my friends Eda, Erin, and I left for Hokkaido. =D It was my first trip to Hokkaido, and one that we've been planning to do for a few years now!

A lot of people found it funny that I, who hates cold places, would go to Hokkaido to be surrounded by the snow and ice sculptures of the annual Yuki Matsuri. Oh yes, was it cooooooold! But the weather was so nice and sunny, and there was no wind, that I actually never once felt cold in Hokkaido!! (by comparison, I am freezing here in Tokyo as I type..) In a moment, I would go again!! I really loved it there!! <3<3<3 All of the snow and ice was sooo gorgeous! And I only fell once! (which is a major achievement for me!! ^o^)

There are so many highlights!! Though I have to mention the lowlights... horrible smoking in our super-fancy hotel!! It was all over, and I just never would have imagined such a nice hotel (they had an onsen, gorgeous foyers, carpeting everywhere, etc) with such a reek of smoke. It gave me a headache. Really, that was the only downpoint other than me catching a really horrible cold right as I left (which I am dealing with now... so so siiiiick!), and getting dizzy a few times (I think that was due to the oncoming cold-- but just to be sure I'm going to the doctor's next week).

Ahhh gorgeous snow!! And OMG the food!!! o.o!! We had a lot of Hokkaido specials, like Butter-corn Ramen (yum!!), Snow Crab (omgyum!!), Beer Ice Cream (ew), Ghenghis Khan (so-so), Shiroi Koibitos (ew), and ten-million kinds of sushi!!

The Hokkaido Sapporo radio tower. It was just a little down from where we were staying.. ^^

First off, we ran into the food booths and discovered these delicious panda-man!! :O Yumm!!

Eda thinks it's yummy!!

So does Erin!!

Some typical food stalls at a japanese fair.

This one is selling official Yuki-matsuri goods.

There were also kids ice-skating. It was kind of funny, because when one person fell suddenly three more would! XD

One of the Beijing Olympic mascots in snow in Japan! XD This is a good sign I think, seeing as how there is not a lot of love between Japan and China.

..Will explain this later..

An ice sculpture of a bear.

The bear's face!

A pretty owl

This tree was all lit up at night, but I liked it better during the day, against the gorgeous sun. ^^

Look at the zoo!! =D And the sky. OMG the weather was GORGEOUS. Blue, crisp, and no wind!! So it felt a lot warmer than here despite the 10 degree difference. <3<3<3

I have never seen this much snow in my entire life!! :O

This gorgeous Narnia scene sculpted out in snow..

It's Mufasa!! I mean, not..

The tales of Narnia

World peace ftw!

A really pretty tower.. ^^

I forgot the name of this guy.. but so cute! ^O^

Oh dear, Kojima Yoshio.. You know you've reached the peak of your career in Japan when you have a snow sculpture of you. At least we're reassured knowing that in a few months nobody will have a clue who you are..

Oshiri-kajiri Mushi!!!! WAI! One of my new obsessions. ^______^


I need to make a caption for this one..


Oooooo!! The stranger! =D

Bite me!!! =D I want the butt-biting bug to bite me! (really!)

I don't think I've seen these in the longest time!!

Eheheheee What?


Thomas the Tank Engine. XDXD I had no idea this was in Japan too! =D

Awwww ^_^

I forgot what this was...

LOLOL it's Al Gore! XDXDXD


My hand size in comparison to Hiroshi Abe.. the main guy in Kekkon Dekinai Otoko! XD That drama was so good. We have the same size.

Stupidest thing ever... a smoking car. It was so smoky around it that the picture came out fuzzy. x.x SO DISGUSTING. Just ban it already, come on!!

LOL I find the Japanese flag on this incredibly funny.

Domo-kun vs. OKM!! Looks like his butt doesn't get bitten! :O

SNOW. <3<3

Me and Erin and SNOW <3


Awwwww!! It's those little hamsters that are in the UFO catcher machines!

This is Mari-mokkori ("mossball erection")... It's a Hokkaido mascot with a giant erection bulge in it's crotch. ....... A friend actually gave me one as a present once and I eventually took it off of my phone because I spent a lot of time around children and felt that it would be inappropriate for them. But apparently it's not considered such in Japan because there were tons of parents pointing it out to their kids ("Look! Mari-mokkori!!"), and tons of kids doing the same to their parents. Wow, what a difference between American and Japan, huh.. If I'd had kids of my own there, I would have covered their eyes and maybe complained to the company. But I just think differently.. I guess in a culture that has a giant-balled racoon as one of their common forest-spirits, it's to be expected..

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marimokkori

We found this statue a little scary because it had melted slightly..

Chinese Lion. =D

Lazy Buddha..


The Doughnut place mascot! XD

This is the number 9.. I wish that it was slightly altered to "power" instead..

Starbucks is everywhere!! They even had an "igloo" here..

The animals were so detailed in this sculpture! But omg the kids.. o.o;;

They're raping an octopus!! ToT

The true and ritz way.. ??

LOLOL. I like the mouth!

So detailed! A little scary-looking but..

This one was melting... awww. ;_;

Keroro Gunso! =D This is for you Kei!


For you Gin!

McDonalds is everywhere!!! Even though Grimace looks like a giant lung with emphezyma..

Pinky St!! Or, it used to be..

More for me! =D =D =D

Though it had partly melted and refroze, turning completely freaky-looking..

Uh, yeah...... But check out the gorgeous sky!


Even more! XD

Anpan man!! My friend is one of the seiyuu in here.. (it's a popular children's show)


Hello kitty!

Uh, yeah...


Some kind of video-game character, I'm sure..

Totoro says "brush your teeth every day!"

This is a vending machine! XDXD

We ran into Bethany completely randomly! Coincidence!! (and not the only time! XD)

It was bright outside!

Me x snowman!

When it's slippery on the land, lay down some sand! XD

The tower again.. See what I said about the weather? <3

For joyful human stage =D

This was a well-known church in the area.. Isn't it gorgeous?

For lunch was butter-corn ramen!! OMG OMG OMG I have been missing out! I will have to find out where to get this in Tokyo!

This is the sapporo beer factory! I don't like beer, but it was something that you have to go see, you know? ^^

These are what hops look like!

XDXDXD The naaaame! XD

A giant vat to make beer in. The english captions indicated that this was in use, but it wasn't hooked up to anything. ^^;;

This is a special orange soda only sold here..

On the way back to the hotel, we walked past the ice sculptures all lit up!!

The emperor and empress... LOL at the emperor's hat!! Maybe this explains why Mari-mokkori isn't considered vulgar..

This is SO awesome! I've heard of a museum like this in Northern Japan, and I really want to go!!

This would soon become Ghengis Khan! It was alright, but I wasn't as fond of the flavor as normal yakiniku sauce..

The same aisle in the day..

I really love this picture!!

Yes, they had bars made of ice!! For the crazy people. =D

Mmm sushi!!

Isn't this hilarious? It has real ramen in it!!

Except they called it "lamian" XDXD How did anyone come up with that?!

Best preserved fish picture ever!! I challenge you to find a better one ^__^

Bit hitto!! XDXD

Mmm crab!!

We eventually made it to the chocolate factory, yay!! <3

There was real gold in it!! O.O

We think these were rose bushes, all packaged up for winter.. It was kind of creepy looking, I wouldn't want to walk alone here at sunrise/nighttime..

This was where we had crab at!! It was SO delicious and we had our own little private room!! It wasn't even expensive, though it looks like it!! (there were expensive things on the menu, though we just didn't order them)

Possibly the best bill total ever. XDXD For three people too!

I found this in a bathroom (I seemed to need to go to the bathroom every five minutes! ^^;;) It says "shiito cleaner", meaning "sheet cleaner" but sounding a lot more like some fancy-accented "shit cleaner" ^^;;;

This iswhere we had beer ice cream!! Well, Eda did, but we tried it. I had the yubari melon, which didn't really work well with Hokkaido cream, which is really creamy and thick (and yummy!).

Eda liked her beer ice cream!

Erin liked her vanilla!

Kakashi suddenly showed up in the mall next door..

An unfortunately-named store... >.>;;;;

Another hokkaido specialty, this was filled with sweet potato..

A Hokkaido bus. Much cleaner than China's busses!

I said "oh my..." and everyone knew at a glance what I was talking about. It was a lot more hideous in person. These kinds of mismatched horrifyingly-colored tights are really popular in Japan right now! No surprise.. I'm not sure if it's better than the elf shoes from three years ago or not..

More park food.. It's completely normal to see this: roasted corn, roasted Japanese sweet potato (not as sweet as American), roasted Squid-on-a-stick. Yeah.

Glad those aren't Gs up there! O.o

I thought this looked pretty in the light..

Crazy ppl in the bar!

Funny signs.. XD

Eda took this from the plane... Isn't it GORGEOUS? It looks like we're in outerspace. <3<3

Mt Fuji from the plane ^__^

And that's it!!

Wow, with this weekend away I've really fallen behind with answering comments and answering emails.. I've got a lot of things taking up my time right now, but hopefully I can start moving in the right direction soon!!

I will write about that more tomorrow or so, since it's nearing bedtime tonight and I have work in the morning.. I hope that everyone enjoyed the pictures! ^__^ I didn't realize that I'd chosen so many to post, but there were so many to choose from!! ^O^
(Anonymous) on February 12th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
You've definatly convinced me to go to Hokkaido next year for a holiday :)

It looks amazing!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 15th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)
I hope you enjoy it! ^^
filafila_desu on February 12th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
The vending machine snow sculpture is TOTALLY made of win <3
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 15th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)
I know, isn't it AWESOME?! I didn't realize what it was until my friends pointed it out to me. XD
tl;dree970 on February 12th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
Awesome, not only are your pix better than mine (they're in focus, for one), you actually put them up in a timely fashion, plus with commentary and stuff. :D Ahh, today was so gross and rainy, I wish I was back in Hokkaido (eating crabbbbb). One thing, the Clock Tower isn't a church, it's just a clock tower with a little museum inside. Like, I think it was one of the first administrative buildings in Sapporo or something. Either way, by now it has become the symbol of Sapporo city. It's said that the clock has never been wrong (but they could be lying).
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 15th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
I want to see yours up!! ^o^ Which reminds me that I forgot to put up the one that you sent me! If you ever want the HQ versions of these pics, let me know and I'll zip them up and upload them for you. ^^

Oooops, I completely couldn't remember the details about that clock tower, so I was trying to pull something out of my ass when I wrote about it. ^^;;;;
(no subject) - ee970 on February 16th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hinoai on February 17th, 2008 05:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
百加☆nitaspitas on February 12th, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC)
The pictures look amazing! I didn't realize Thomas was so popular here until I saw all the backpacks and things the kids would bring to the school where I worked. And in the lobby, they would always choose the Thomas books over the others...
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 15th, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
Than kyou!! ^O^

LOL I didn't even know that they'd translated Thomas in Japanese until I saw this sculpture. I guess it makes sense... the japanese would never miss out on something as cute as that! ^^;;
pipichanpipichan on February 12th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
absolutely gorgeous! thank you so much for posting the photos. Hokkaido appears to be a much more interesting place than I thought it was.
Btw why did Hiroshi leave his hand mark there? :0
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
It is definitely an interesting place. I want to go back during the summer sometime, and take trips up in the northern areas and go camping. I heard that its' still quite chilly then though..

His hand was there to promote the new drama that he's starring in, along with the lead actress'.
(no subject) - pipichan on February 16th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pipichan on February 16th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
Linstarrbeam on February 12th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
amazing pictures! I must go there next year :D
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
I highly recommend it! ^o^ I think that it was the only trip I'll ever make during the winter there, but I definitely want to go back and experience more of Hokkaido!
ore-samathesundaywriter on February 12th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
i love the animal ice sculptures! esp. that first bear one ^_^

and if i'm not mistaken, the name of that hippo like character is moonmin.
(Anonymous) on February 12th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
It's Moomin (or Moomintroll). He's Finnish.

(no subject) - hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
akibareakibare on February 12th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
Wow, great pictures!

I have to say that the day after it snows a whole lot, when there's lots of snow and yet the sky is bright bright blue, is one of my favorite kinds of weather EVER.

I was last in Hokkaido in 2003 but it was in the fall. I DO like beer though (mmm, beeeer) and went to the Sapporo beer factory, yep. They had all you can drink beer and eat lamb cooked by you at the table "Genghis Khan" for 90 minutes, it was awesome. I was with a friend, but while in there we saw a guy from Oregon we'd seen in the train station earlier, and he was with a family, he had given their daughter (college-ish) his hat that said "Beavers" on it (Oregon State mascot) so he asked me to explain why it was funny, I did, and wow, more beers for everyone, as the father of the family found out I have the same name as his wife, and he was already in quite a good mood... :)

So elf shoes are now out? Thank goodness for small favors!!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)
Thank you! ^__^ Yeah, I love the same effect, but after a warm summer rain/storm. It's SO gorgeous and clear the next day, you can see for miles! It's like they stole all of the clouds and used them up in just that little time! ^o^

LOL!! Beaver hat! I want one!!

Yeah, those horrid shoes are out, thank god! They've been replaced by other nearly equally-hideous shoes, but at least when I do see someone wearing them I can say, "that person is SO out of style!!" to myself. Now why anyone would wear those shoes while they're out-of-style is a complete mystery!
Alliehiguma_otoshi on February 12th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
"Lamian" is the Chinese pinyin spelling of 拉面, so they didn't really romanise it wrong.
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
LOL really? That's hilarious!! Of course, they were romanizing it primarily for an english-speaking audience (judging by the english captions underneath), so they definitely missed the mark there!
(Deleted comment)
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
Ohhh pretty!! Do you have any pictures?

Butter ramen was actually really good! I don't think it was the butter as much as the delicious corn, though! (though I'm not a huge corn lover, I loved it!)

Shiroi-koibito was yuck. :/ They gave us a free one for taking the tour, and I was quite disappointed.
Francesca {フランチェスカ}fantasy2004 on February 12th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
those were some awsome snow and ice sculptures, I ever saw. Do they have contest who makes them?

Glad you had fun.
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
I'm not sure what goes into making them, but I really love the final result! ^^
Deanna: nippon ham fightersdr4b on February 12th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
I don't think I mind the Oshirikajirimushi itself, but the song is REALLY annoying! Argh!

I've wanted to go to Hokkaido for about 4 years now since the Fighters moved up there and think I'm going to go for Golden Week this year. I get the feeling it'll be about as insane on the travel end then too -- did you have to book flights/hotel/etc a long time in advance for the festival?
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
XDXD I'm so stuck on that song!! Oshirikajirimushi~~~

Definitely go!! For the festival, I think that you'd be able to get a room somewhere as little as a week before the festival, but for a nice place you'd need to book months in advance (I think we did about 4-5 months in advance). For a flight you need to book in the first 1-2 minutes of when they go on sale, or you won't get one. They go on sale 2 months before the flight, at 10 AM I think, so you basically have to stalk the webpage and refresh constantly.
chibichan03 on February 12th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
I have always wanted to go to Hokkaido for the Winter Festival, now I am definately going to have to plan a trip if I get accepted to the JET Program. Hokkaido looks so pretty, and it is one of the few places that cranes still inhabit. Looks like you had a great time!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
I highly recommend it! It was so much fun!!
☆花☆huahua on February 12th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
the snow and ice sculptures are so so awesome. i bet they look even more amazing in real.
the food looks really appealing too. ^^ hope you had fun!
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, one of the best things about Hokkaido was the food!!
Panda Warrior Versus The Worldwarrior_panda on February 12th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
Amazing camera shots, beautiful scenery, and excellent commentary. You're really captured the culture of Sapporo. I'm glad to see they sculpted the Chinese Olympic mascot. That's good. :) Hey, is it true that there's parts of Japan that discriminate against non-Japanese, ie anti-Chinese, anti-Korean signs.

Great post!! I'm really missing out! I was invited to go to Sapporo last year while I was in Tokyo...I regret not going!

Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on February 16th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)
Thank you! ^_^

As for discrimination, I haven't seen the signs myself, but I've heard about them (moreso against white/black people and Russians especially though). I've definitely heard anti-chinese sentiment though.. and vice-versa in China toward the Japanese.