One Sapporo Yuki Matsuri site down, two more to go. Now for a return visit to the focal point of this year’s festivities.
From the Tsu-Dome site of the Yuki Matsuri, I hopped onto a direct shuttle bus that brought me to the festival’s main venue at Ōdōri Park. I was there last night, but that initial visit didn’t quite cover the entire length of the park, so I returned for a more comprehensive sweep.
The following map plots out one possible driving route between the Tsu-Dome and Ōdōri Park, and doesn’t necessarily follow the actual route our bus took (I’ve included it here for illustrative purposes only).
After getting off the bus, I began my walk from the park’s eastern end, which was dominated by the Sapporo TV Tower.
The PARK AIR Jump on the 3-chōme block was as busy as ever, with snowboarders eager to test their skills on the artificial run.
Here’s another view of the Taiwan ice sculpture (4-chōme block) that we first saw last night.
Just one of the many corporate-sponsored exhibits on the festival grounds.
A (somewhat) better shot than last night’s of the showpiece snow sculpture on the 5-chōme block, although it was still surrounded by crowds and getting a good spot wasn’t easy.
The 7-chōme block had an environment-themed sculpture . . .
. . . that also served as a kiddie ice slide.
A little further along was the Malaysia snow sculpture that I didn’t take a picture of last night. This is a recreation of Kuala Lumpur’s Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
Another ice slide for younger visitors.
On the 8-chōme block, the India-themed sculpture stands white and silent, bereft of the lively music and colourful displays projected upon it last night – but still quite beautiful to look at.
Throughout this long stroll, and despite the bitter cold, one couldn’t help but be drawn into the festival atmosphere by the scores of shops and stalls lining the route. Some were selling themed goods, including items featuring the winter version of the popular Vocaloid character Hatsune Miku.
Others featured more exotic souvenirs, like these Russian matryoshka dolls.
Some reached out to passers-by with colourful posters and little gimmicks, like this one that allowed visitors to warm up a bit using an electric heater.
And of course, one couldn’t ignore all that glorious food.
The remaining blocks, from 9-chōme to 12-chōme, featured a mix of large sponsored sculptures . . .
. . . and smaller works, including art produced by ordinary citizens of Sapporo.
The 11-chōme block was the site of the 41st International Snow Sculpture Contest. Nine teams from different parts of the world competed to turn out works of frozen art within 4 days, from 4th to 7th February (judging was to take place on the 8th). As of the time of my visit, the teams still had the remainder of the day plus the following day to finish, so the sculptures I saw were still very much works-in-progress.
I do believe that ball in the second image would eventually become this year’s winner, Mobius glove (by a team from Daejeon in South Korea).
11-chōme was also the site of the Ōdōri Park HQ for the official Snow Miku promotional campaign.
Although not, strictly speaking, an anime or manga character, Hatsune Miku is very much a part of the broader Japanese pop culture phenomenon that includes anime and manga. As an anime/manga enthusiast myself, I certainly knew who she was and even considered joining that long line pictured above (it’s for entry to a small building where Snow Miku goods were on sale). Alas, fearing for the health of my wallet, I decided to move on.
Not that I emerged completely unscathed, as I did buy a couple of official Snow Miku souvenirs from elsewhere in the park (I’ll probably add pictures of those to this post in due course).
Anchoring the western end of Ōdōri Park – and marking the conclusion of our long trek from its eastern end – is the stately former home of the Sapporo Court of Appeals, now housing the Sapporo City Archive Museum.
A great walk in the park . . . but my watch and my stomach were now in firm agreement that lunch was overdue. I headed back to Sapporo Station to try out a local speciality, which I’ve made the subject of a separate food report.
After lunch, I actually felt nice and warm enough to try a frozen dessert. Simple soft-serve ice cream, with a generous dollop of sweet azuki topping to give it that essential Japanese touch.
After that, I made my way back to the hotel, avoiding the freezing outdoors for as long as possible by using the network of subterranean shopping streets underneath Sapporo Station.
A couple of hours’ rest was followed by a return trip to Sapporo Station, which will be the starting point of this evening’s journey to the third and final site of the Yuki Matsuri (more in the next post). But first, guess who I ran into at the tourist information office.
Awww, there’s just no avoiding her, is there? Then again, she’s a local girl (the company that created her is based in Sapporo) so we’ll just have to put up with seeing her face now and then.
To be continued.