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

Getting ready to start the fight!

During the Yuki Gassen competition - unfortunately the only all-foreigner team lost 3 of the 4 games that day...

A Japanese acoustic Oldies-cover band group playing at a local bar - they were good!

The Abashiri Drift Ice - it's the southernmost point for viewing drift ice in Japan

Heather and I on the Drift Ice Cruise

Miriam, myself, and Phil at the Sapporo Snow Festival!  The three of us met freshmen year at Augie when we went on a Spring Break trip together.  Now we're all English teachers abroad.  I'm in Hokkaido, Japan.  Miriam is in Ikuno, Japan, and Phil teaches a few hours north of Hong Kong, in China. It was a great Augie reunion!

This is at the Sapporo Snow Festival, on the block for the international competition. 

A huge snow sculpture of some famous Japanese animation cartoon.

Jesse, Miriam, Phil, and I - and we're all from South Dakota!  Three Augie grads and a SDSU grad. :)

Another snow sculpture - this is based on a Chinese building in Beijing

While in Sapporo for a long weekend, we took a day trip to a nearby town named Otaru to see their candle festival.  The town puts candles in snow scuptures and on their canal.  They are famous for it because the buildings along the canal are especially European looking. 

Another photo of the candles in Otaru.

Check out more photos from my Hokkaido winter at:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kim,

    my name is Jose and I come from Spain. Just arrived today at Kitami for a business trip and leaving next saturday. The pistures above seem great. Do you know if there is any special event during this week in Kitami? I would like to see as much as possible after long as the temperature allows that..

    Thank you and take care !!

    PD: I tried to email you but I could't find your email in this blog. I am sorry in case this comment is published in a not proper place.