火曜日, 2月 15, 2011

Hokkaido Snow Festival AKA Ryan is a great host.

Okay, I have one hour to blog the world to you! Then I have to get back to finishing my correspondence course! ん。

First off, THANK YOU to everyone who participated in my first ever POLL! There will be more. The results are in and surprise surprise: NO ONE wants me to write short fiction :P That's fine, I just thought I'd throw it out there, I didn't have any ideas anyway. What I WILL be writing about is....


First I have a two stories that will lead into that, so I will write them in chronological order.

Then, in true blog format, they will be arranged in "Most Recent" to "Oldest" order and you'll end up reading it all Tarentino style anyway. OH WELL!
So story #1 of 2 that leads into Crazy Shit You've Never Heard Of starts ...now:

Yeah... That's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Click for full screen!

Last week I went to the Hokkaido Snow Festival in Sapporo, not the beer, but the city the beer is named for. As it turns out, Sapporo is famous for a lot of great food: Scallops, Crab, Miso Ramen, anything dairy related (Hokkaido is Japan's number one source for dairy products, so everything from butter to ice cream is fresher and more delicious there), and my new love: "Soup Curry". More on that in a bit.
Not cold for Hokkaido, PLENTY cold for me!

So I arrived at the airport and ran from the plane where a baby two rows behind me had been wailing nonstop for the last 30 minutes (I cannot stress how much I hate the sound of crying children, but I guess no one *likes* it), and quickly found my way to the bus which took me all the way to my friend Ryan's house.
He was at work, but left his apartment open for me, and I went in, got settled, and played with his cats. After a nap I tried to figure out his shower, but it was impossible. I should have taken a photo, because it was basically a gas-powered hot water heater complete with pilot-light lighter built INSIDE the shower. In stead of blowing his house and myself top smithereens, I used some body spray and wandered around his neighborhood, ducking into the first ramen joint I found for lunch.

The portion was huge, but this was clearly not the gourmet Miso Ramen I was looking for...
Me and Hattchan
I went back to the house and played with Ryan's cats more, eventually getting up the nerve to turn on his intimidatingly huge gas heater and taking a nap with the kitties in the living room. Why so home bound? I was also getting over a a bad stomach-flu and had messed my foot up playing Ultimate frisbee the Sunday before, so walking hurt, I had zero energy, and I wanted to take it easy so I would get well enough to enjoy my trip, but surprisingly (or not), despite all of this, I was quite happy and enjoying just being on vacation and having the OPTION to take it slow.

OH! looking at this photo, I realize that I am skipping the story of renewing my passport in Osaka the day before, which was a story in itself, but I guess that can wait until I get my passport back.

So that evening Ryan came home, we caught up on each other's lives since we hadn't seen each other in person since we MET at Tokyo Orientation for new JETs a year and a half before, played some Tekken 5, then went upstairs to his neighbor's for a small laid back Nabe (hot-pot) dinner party. For all my pains and ailments, this was a  PERFECT first day.

Day 2, I woke up feeling MUCH better! Ryan got off work and took me to his favorite Indian restaurant. Why Indian food? Some connection to Hokkaido? No, because Indian food is fucking delicious. 'Nuff said!

These are what the streets looked like outside downtown.

Ryan went back to work I walked around downtown Sapporo. My goal was to visit the Ainu Museum. The Ainu, for those who don't know were an indigenous people to northern Japan who have all but been wiped out by the modern "Japanese" people, so in many ways their history is similar to America and our native tribes. Along the way, I visited this amazing park where their Prefectural office and their historic "Old Prefectural Office" is. You might not care about this, but since I work every day at an old dilapidated Prefectural office, it was interesting, and the old building was super cool and reminded me of "Old Main" at the U of A, but with a frozen lake and an adorable, giant, Japanese-style snowman STRAIGHT out of Mario 64! Check it out:

Panorama WIN!
Afterward I wandered around trying to find the Ainu Museum. I KNEW I was close, but for some reason all roads kept leading me back to the great, big, CLOSED, botanical garden. Eventually I started asking strangers on the street until I got the answer I feared: The museum was INSIDE the botanical garden, and therefore closed for the winter. Damn. After three-plus hours walking around my foot was killing me as well. That evening I knew I would meet up with Ryan and his girlfriend and their friends, so I ducked into a promising looking sports doctor's office and wound up getting electro-massage acupuncture! (If that sounds like some crazy Japan shit you've never heard of, read my older blog about it!)
I love this pic cuz it looks like he's DJing my foot :P

Feeling MUCH better ALL OVER, and with my foot taped up, I met up with everyone, we went to an izakaya for dinner and drinks, and afterword starting getting into the snow festival area, specifically, the ICE SCULPTURES! I will just show you this one, but there were SO MANY amazing ones and just the sheer size of each one and how many of them there were, all in the same place was very impressive!
Day three I met up with some friends from Hiroshima after finally going to a famous Miso Ramen restaurant for lunch:
Yeah, THAT's the good stuff. けやき

We walked all over the main snow festival area, got lots of great photos and saw tons of snow sculptures!
This was just one small section...

We had a great couple hours hanging out and looking at all the incredible designs, but my foot was once again killing me, so we parted ways and I went back for another round of acupuncture. It was there I found out about some crazy Japan shit I had never heard of, but that will be a story for another time (Mwuhuhahahaha!)...

So I invited all my friends to meet me afterward for dinner at a Soup Curry (Calyi?) restaurant. Everyone bailed and Ryan said "What do you wanna do?"
"EAT SOUP CURRY!" was my response and it was the best decision I made that day!
After a snowball filled walk, we were ready, but I had no idea what glory was about to ensue...
I couldn't know the treat I was in store for, but Ryan clearly knew he was granting a wish I was too naive to dare dream. Soup Curry is a delicious soup broth fill a mountain of delicious ingredients and Indian curry spices. I have no idea if such a thing exists in India, but this should be served EVERYWHERE (same goes for Doner Kebab...) Ryan got the broccoli and Maitake mushrooms, which were as succulent as Fillet Mignon.
 Isn't it glorious? This was recommended to me by both Ryan and his S.African ALT neighbors, so I had to order the "Crispy chicken". It included a quail egg, pumpkin, eggplant, potato, bell pepper, carrot and gobo (burdock) root. I was in heaven.
After that we THOUGHT we'd meet my friends in town for drinks so we headed downtown. Turns out, no one has even STARTED eating dinner (at 9P.M.) so Ryan and I go to the bar to drink while we wait. Not to whine, but everyone flaked pretty hardcore on us, and only one person bothered to apologize, but i guess they were all in vacation mode, but so was I, and Ryan and I made the best of our time at this cool game and entertainment-themed bar before going back home.

As luck had it, we chose the exact right moment to go home, because we ran into four of Ryan's friends on the train and ended up going to karaoke until 3am! Basically, this trip was a series of unfortunate disasters (sick, maimed, locked out of a museum, and deserted) that led to great things making all of the bad shit mean nothing.

We spent the next morning sleeping off that night and headed back into town to enjoy the remaining bits of the Snow Festival I hadn't seen already. We had some delicious "hot cherry beer", German flavored almonds, more food, and laughed at people slipping and tripping on the ice.

Yeah...wait, what?
All in all and incredible journey right? But Hokkaido had one last surprise for me. As I waited for my plane to arrive, who should i see getting OFF the same plane but NINJA from Die Antwoord!!!
I talk about this guy so much, seeing him made me think of that book/movie "The Secret", like maybe I had attracted him to Japan. He smiled and said "Hey" and that was about all I could ask for since he was in the flow of people going toward the baggage claim on the other side of security. Seeing a rapper you like in the airport is just about the coolest way to end a trip. I guess I would have like to be sitting next to him on a flight, but I'd also constantly wonder if I was just bothering him, so this was perfect. If you don't know Ninja, watch this, and watch out for my next blog, where I meet more random famous people and really DO wonder if it's alright to schmooze with them so long! Until next time,

2 件のコメント:

  1. Ninja shorts are so haggard, yet I totally understand what he's feeling. I love that feeling, finding a pair of pants, shorts, a shirt, a hat--something that fits just right and represents everything you want right then. And yes, I have worn such clothing days in a row as well...