Published: February 23rd 2010February 8th 2010
On the last day of Sapporo trip I woke around 9am (I got to sleep in!). After grabbing a quick bite to eat, a friend and I made our way to the JR Tower. On the 38th floor of the tower is 360 degree view of Sapporo! Viewing conditions the night before were not very good, but in the morning they were perfect! It was unbelievable looking down at the city. I never knew it was so massive (and so flat!!). The city stretched as far as the eye could see, and out of that city grew a large chain of mountains in the South. We spent about an hour there, and decided to leave at the perfect time because at that point it started to snow.
From the tower we made our way to the Tsu-Dome, one of the Snow Festival sites, that was a bit farther out. This site is known for it's 3 snow slides. Of course when we got there we realized that 2 of the slides were only for little kids, so we were out of luck. Before deciding to go down the only slide available to us we decided to enter the Tsu-dome and
take a look around. They had a Honda car exhibit, some children's games, and eating area.. and in the far left corner... a Naruto exhibit!! Lucky! (For those of you who don't know Naruto is a Japanese graphic novel and anime.) After spending much time looking over the things there, we noticed on the stage Honda was doing a presentation. As we got closer we realized it was ASIMO, the robot! I was thoroughly impressed. The robot's movements and voice were not at all robotic, but very smooth. It was quite the experience -- just watching this robot. We left the dome and took a little snow-rafting ride (not really worth the 500 yen but still enjoyable) and then we got in line for the snow slide. Twenty minutes later we had out snow tube in hand and we were climbing the steps up to the top of the slide. The first half of the trip down I was facing the right way but about halfway through my tube spun around so I couldn't see much except the people at the top of the slide. (Just before I stopped at the bottom is spun back around...) It was a lot
of fun but was over way too quickly.
From the Tsu-Dome, we headed to Susukino, the ice sculpture area of the snow festival, and home to Ramen alley. Sapporo is famous for (amongst many things...) ramen! So we headed to Ramen Alley for lunch. Now, this sounded like a good idea. Hungry people, wanting food, go to an alley with about 10-20 ramen shops... the problem? Too much selection!! Most of the places served the same types of ramen but clearly they'll all taste different depending on the chef. After about 15 minutes of walking up and down this tiny alley we settled for a nice looking place. Although after we placed our menu and took a look at the chef, we realized we probably should have gone back to the old man's shop who was calling us to come in, because clearly old ramen chefs have tons of ramen wisdom and experience. Our chef was quite young. (Yes I'm judging a book by it's cover, but it's true!) We finally got out ramen and started eating right away. It was good, not the best I've had but still good. After the ramen, I took a few photos of
the ice sculptures then headed back to the hostel to pack up my stuff and rest up. I planned on coming back to the sculptures once it was dark, because then they would light up the sculptures.
By around 5pm, I headed back out to the sculptures. They looked pretty nice when they were all lit up. It only took me about 20 minutes to walk the length of the area and back, so from there I went back to Odori Park to buy a list minute souvenir for myself. I managed to waste a bit more time around that area but by 6:30 I decided to go grab some food before heading back to the hostel. My train didn't leave Sapporo until 10pm, and I was back at the hostel by 7pm... so I sat around the common room, playing on the internet and watching a Japanese police drama, I also met a young traveler from Sweden. By 8:45 I could no longer just sit around, so I made my way to the train station... to sit more.
My trip back involved 3 trains. One from Sapporo to Aomori (via underground/underwater tunnel...which I was asleep during), arriving
at approximately 5:30am; from Aomori to Hachinohe, arriving at 6:50, and from Hachinohe to Sendai, arriving around 8:10. Luckily I took the morning off work so I could take my time once I got home to unpack and eat, etc. I was exhausted but made it to work by 12. I was also a bit shocked by the weather. Going from -10 to 13 degrees in one day (apparently the weather was welcoming me back...) was quite the treat.
Anyway, that was my time in Sapporo! It was a great festival, but I think once is enough to last me a while.
There are more photos below