A Candle Lit Visit at Nakajima Park

Nakajima Koen is the end point subway station of my family’s recent journey from Osaka to Sapporo in Hokkaido.  After reaching this station, the remaining thing that we have to do is to drag our luggage and walk for a couple of minutes for us to reach our designated hotel.

Upon touchdown at Hokkaido, we only got to personally feel the snow with our very own hands when we got out of Nakajima Koen station.  Everyone were so excited with knowing what the actual feel of the snow is, we literally left our humongous bags and luggage right at the doorstep of the station and ran towards  the northern end of Nakajima Park which is located right above and outside Nakajima Koen station.  And since its Japan, no one (of course) stole our luggage.

The following morning when we proceeded to Nakajima Koen to ride the subway, we noticed that artisans are starting to work on their snow pieces so as to decorate, spruce up and embellish the park.

Nakajima Park is actually not part of the 3 major sites and venues of the Sapporo Snow Festival, but this park was transformed into something very dramatic to support and in a way reinforce and bolster the joys of the ongoing festival.

lighted pathway

lighted pathway

love this shot

love this shot (I dedicate this shot as well as the music of the video below to my late friend, Red, who passed away while I was in Japan)

a totally different drama at nakajima

a totally different drama at nakajima

Nakajima Park turns out to become a ‘snow-lighted park’.  Japanese call it YukiAkari.  And after long and arduous preparations, YukiAkari will only run for three nights.  Lucky for us because we were there when it opened.

Inside the park is a small tent where you can draw anything on a paper cup (for free) and this cup will be turned into a lantern.  Your personal paper cup lantern in turn will be added as part of the park’s lighted decoration.

super cool

super cool gallery of sorts…

nengkoy was here...

nengkoy was here…

erika's "mon amour" piece is also lighted

erika’s “mon amour” piece is also lighted

peaceful

peaceful

Those ice and snow lanterns are so pretty!  The pictures don’t really capture the atmosphere of the flickering candles in the snow.

Bunder’s 2014 Vimeo video actually captured some of the feel and beauty of this portion of Sapporo.  Watch it…

This has been my personal favourite among the amazing sites I saw during my family’s Sapporo adventure.

Super nays…

Tsu Dome: The Family-Oriented Site of Sapporo Snow Festival

team langit conquering tsu dome

team langit conquering tsu dome

The first Sapporo Snow Festival venue my family went to before seeing the sparkling Susukino and the magnificent Odori Park is the white snow fields of Tsu Dome.  This site is our first snow endeavour as a family.  It’s so obvious that it is our first snow adventure because as soon as we arrived at the site the first thing me and my family did was to take shelter by getting inside a heated cabin and ordered the hottest instant noodles available!

nengkoy after being thawed by a hot instant noodles...

nengkoy after being thawed by hot instant noodles…

tsu dome! fun! fun! fun!

tsu dome! fun! fun! fun!

It was the first day of the festival when we arrived at Tsu Dome.  This is evidenced because the snow artists for the site’s snow sculpture exhibits has just started with their work.

The distinctive character of Tsu Dome as compared to Susuki and Odori Park venues is that the features are family-oriented and the site is more interactive.  There’s a lot of things to do in the site that involves snow-related family activities.  The site actually fits more to the children’s liking and I have never seen so much Japanese kids in my life until that day!  It’s the Sapporo Snow Festival that should not be missed if you have kids.

young sculptors up for something...

young sculptors up for something…

thatcher in a picture perfect moment...

thatcher in a picture perfect moment…

that is sooo japanese!

that is sooo japanese!

Good thing my genius nephews and nieces considered this place as the first site to visit among the three major venues of the snow festival.  Otherwise, this site could have become a little boring if our itinerary started with the bravura of the giant snow sculptures of Odori Park.

Anyway, aside from the outdoor snow activities, there are also lots of kiddie features, events and goings-on inside the imposing dome.  Channeling the kids in us, every one of us did the snow rafting ride as towed by a snowmobile.  I, my younger sister, nephews and nieces also cracked the thrill offered by the gigantic snow slide!

awesome!

awesome! after the doing a scary water rafting in davao river, this is kid stuff for nengkoy

super fun!

super fun!

picture muna

picture muna

Tsu Dome was a nice start.  It was a pure clean fun site of the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Ang kukyut ng mga bagets! Ang sarap pisil pisilin!

Spectacular Sapporo Snow Festival at the Odori Park

Feeling, seeing and experiencing the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido was the main reason of my family’s comeback visit to adorable Japan.  And true enough we were in Sapporo, Hokkaido during the week’s highlights of the snow festival.

breathtaking view from above!

breathtaking view from above!

Thanks to the genius talent and cleverness of my three dear nephew and nieces (Denden, Erika and Thatcher) who are all based in Osaka for arranging everything.  From domestic air travel arrangements, to accommodation as well as the well-organized itinerary for each day.  It was such a worry-free winter adventure.

The Sapporo Snow Festival as I learned during the trip has three main venues.  One of which is the Odori Park located right at the heart of Sapporo.  This is the site where spectacular and gigantic snow sculptures are aligned along the stretch of the 1.5 kilometer park.

It was my first time to see and watch an actual snowboard and ski jumping exhibitions!  It was super scary yet it was happening right in the middle of the park!

super thrill!

super thrill!

that ain't a bird!

that ain’t a bird!

Being a Filipino tourist in a foreign country, it is so remarkable and delightful to see and witness the Philippines’ participation in the festival. My family was very surprised to see the giant sculpture depicting the Manila Cathedral.  I initially could not believe that there is a Philippine entry, I was shouting “sNOw WAY!”

i was so stunned, i wanted to enter and hear mass!

i was so stunned, i wanted to enter and hear mass!

me and my dear sister feeling proud

me and my dear sister feeling proud

we love sapporo!

we love sapporo!

But because of its grandiosity, it is actually considered one of the most beautiful feature highlights at the festival and seem to be one of the most revered and photographed sculpture.  We were so proud we couldn’t stop taking its photo!

But the ultimately stunning sculpture was the almighty 50-foot tall giant snow sculpture of the Star Wars!  No doubt it was the most adored and most popular!

one happy gang!

one happy gang! (with my younger sister, niece and nephews)

wow!

wow!

may the force be with you...

may the force be with you…

It was so cool, the Death Star and three Stormtroopers were featured!  And since I adore movie villains, this giant sculpture easily became my favourite because there was no Star Wars hero present and instead the iconic yet most villainous Darth Vader snow-statue was mounted!

 

Super kool ‘di ba?!

My Hokkaido Ski Experience

Being a 100% Filipino living all throughout my delicious life in the hot tropics of Metro Manila, my DNA for sure is not coded for winter season and much worse for a winter sport.  But with my exceptional passion and spirit to be acquainted with these uncommon affairs, I built up enough guts to master what needs to be mastered about winter and its associated sport.

enjoying the cold with nengkoy and erika

enjoying the cold with nengkoy and erika

with dr. william smith scott at sapporo hitsujigaoka observatory hill

with dr. william smith scott at sapporo hitsujigaoka observatory hill

my dear sister on a fine powdery snow...

my dear sister on a fine powdery snow…

my three japan-based "pamangkins"

my three japan-based “pamangkins”

That is why while I was in Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan, the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, I took the opportunity to try and pursue the sport of skiing.  And true enough, I easily mastered the art of sliding down the snowy slopes of Sapporo.

Just watch the short video below on how I did the various skiing maneuvers.  From the Iron Cross, to 540 turn, to the Daffy aerial trick, to the Lincoln Loop and of course the Back Flip aerial maneuver. Given another 2 days, I believe I can win the world cup in both slalom and downhill categories.

But seriously, I think skiing is an extremely difficult winter sport that demands great physical stamina and skill.  I actually fell four times while doing a single round of the snow-filled Ishikari Plain at the Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill.

I also learned that falling with the ski on is much easier than standing up from it.  It took less than a second to plunge down on my butt but took me more than a minute to stand up and regain my balance.    I was not embarrassed though because the few people who were also skiing for the first time were also slipping and tumbling like tired toy soldiers.

And guess what? Right after I finished what seem to be an endless round of skiing, I was sweating so profusely I was craving for a strawberry ice cream!  It was never in my wildest dream to ski, but the experience is truly one for the books.

Pinawisan ako. Pramis!