Hokkaido tour

7-8 February 2008

Together with Tobi & Mae Rose and their families and some friends I went to Hokkaido (the northmost island of japan) for 2 days to see the snowfestival.

When we left Haneda airport we could see Mt. Fuji (we had to leave very early again, so the sky was still clear)

The first main thing on the first day was the Asahiyama zoo. It is said to be the nicest and most famous zoo of japan. In winter there are 250 tour busses every day and in summer even more. However, the zoo is quite small and so are the cages of the animals. Although some of the buildings are quite nice to observe the animals (you can see the penguins and seals both above and under water), most of the animals are still in cages and are therefore not really nice to watch and all spaces are small anyway. It is said to be Japan's best with relative freedom for the animals, so I would really advice everyone not to visit a zoo here... (But I got used to the "Dierenpark Emmen" in the Netherlands which keeps herds of various animals on large spaces)

The polar bears did what they are good at... walking back and forth. (The one in the back actually walked circles!)

The main attraction in winter is the "walk of the penguins"

The second interesting part on the first day was the Asahikawa winter festival with large snow sculptures along the river and ice sculptures in the main shopping street.

The biggest snowsculpture in the world. Every year they break their own guinness book record

Group photo of the Germans, the Philippinos, a Japanese woman, a French guy and a Dutch guy

In the inner city they were still busy finishing the ice sculptures. It cooled down even below -10°C and the next morning it was said to be even -27°C, but we only had to walk 5m between the hotel door and the tour bus :-)

Some landscape pictures I took from the bus

At the first (souvenir shop) stop they had a big ice glide slope, so we HAD to try it and we even succeeded in convincing the Philippinos who had never seen snow before coming to Japan that it was fun!

The biggest and most famous snow festival in Japan is this one, in Sapporro (capital of Hokkaido). They had quite some huge sculpture scenes and several smaller snow and ice sculptures around

The tuesday after we came back I saw on the television news that they destroyed this one using a large excavator as the festival had ended... such a pitty

The last part of the trip was the ice festival at the Shikotsuko lake

Here they made big ice structures by icing a thin wire frame using sprinklers, resulting in a shrine, a cave or cathedral like structure, a watchtower, glide slopes, ...