Coming out into the station plaza was like shifting to a parallel universe. It was bitterly cold, but A-Yueh just wanted to play. It was the first time she’d seen real snow. It was everywhere, glistening as it danced down through orange sodium lamp light, to settle atop the street side heaps which were as tall as she was.
In the morning we discovered an almost undisturbed winter wonderland at Hokkaido University. Through the mostly leafless trees and across a small bridge, we jumped off the pathway into the depths. Making a snowman was much trickier than in Daddy’s childhood memories, maybe the snow in England was not as powdery as this?
The next day’s challenge was learning to ski. It didn’t go so well in the morning. However, after lunch A-Yueh got the knack of it, and could start, stop, and smoothly zoom around on the green level slopes.
I’d mistaken Hokkaido’s size and only started to appreciate its vastness as the train passed field after field of pure white snow. Occasionally we’d pass an outcrop of houses, but on the train sped for nearly two hours. The journey was only punctuated by the occasional voice-over warning: station stops are brief - please gather your things and wait next to the doors if you need to alight. Advice to heed well indeed, as the train was usually underway again after less than sixty seconds.
Asahiyama Zoo is north-east of Sapporo, and is well known for its penguins, seals and polar bears. Seeing the Pallas’s cat reminded me of 詹貓貓. At Noboribetsu Marine Park on the coast south of Sapporo we saw dolphins, starfish and jellyfish. Sapporo also has a zoo in the city itself, Maruyama Zoo, which is accessible by metro.
One hundred years ago Otaru, on the coast north-west of Sapporo, was a centre for commerce and an international trading port. Behind the harbour is a scenic canal, and the city is now popular with tourists. We’d planned to take a boat trip, but due to the cold and heavy snow the trips were suspended. Instead, we took a rickshaw tour along the canal and learned about the local history from our guide. It was a great bumpy adventure!
Not every day had heavy snow. With the warm sun shining down on the bright white streets we could strip off hoods, gloves and a few layers, and just have a stroll around. Mummy and A-Yueh found the NHK building, and flew in for a photo opportunity.
Shiroi Koibito are famous chocolate biscuits made in Sapporo. The company that produces them runs a “chocolate entertainment park” in Miyanosawa. We saw the biscuits being produced, and wandered the slightly random exhibits of European artifacts. A-Yueh created her own giant heart shaped cookie featuring a snowman, a cat, a heart, and a snowflake. It was quite difficult to squeeze the tube of ‘ink’ and guide it’s direction at the same time but the result was great.
After a hard day’s cookie making, it was time for Sumo!