Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Winter Fun

Although I wouldn’t claim that the winters in Hokkaido are necessarily worse than in South Dakota, sometimes it just feels so much colder.  For example, in all of my schools they heat the classrooms and teacher’s rooms, but not the hallways.  So I go from a comfortably warm teacher’s room, to a frigid (maybe 40-50 degrees F) hallway, to a comfortably warm and sometimes too warm classroom.  On top of that, I always return to a cold house since I turn off the heat during the day to save money on kerosene.  But even when the heater’s on, it doesn’t circulate well.

What would make my winter better?  If the school hallways weren’t so frigid, if my heater got to most of my house, if there was a legit coffeehouse in my town, if I had more friends nearby…and most definitely if the sidewalks were decently cleared and salted.  Right now they are deadly!  I go to the grocery store and everyone is doing a sort of shuffle in the parking lot because it’s so slippery.  I feel sorry for the really old men and women I see that are walking at a snail’s pace just so they can hopefully make it to the entrance without falling.  It would be a huge liability in the States.

Luckily, the people of Hokkaido celebrate winter.  Nearly every town has a snow festival and there is ample skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowball fighting, and snowmobiling.  Since getting back from Thailand, I have enjoyed the Drift Ice of Abashiri, a weekend of Yuki Gassen (a cross between snowball fighting and capture the flag), and the Sapporo Snow Festival. 

So here are a few pictures and words about making the most of the winters in Hokkaido.  Enjoy!



The crew for the Yuki Gassen competition