After a little mix up about our flights, we are back in Tokyo a day earlier then we thought. A good catch by Megan when she got an email about checking into the hostel in Tokyo on the 12th. We checked into a capsule hostel for the next two nights. The idea is that you simple rent a capsule to sleep in- perfect for the business man working long hours with a long commute home. Each capsule has a mirror, small shelf and reading light. The capsule seems great so far- we will let you know how sleeping in it goes!!
Chitose is known for the salmon that swim through the local river. There is an aquarium in town that also monitors and helps the spawning of the salmon which we visited today. Here are some of the salmon larvae. There are hatching and you can see some in egg form and some as tiny salmon.
In the spring/fall the salmon can been at the center in an underground river viewing level. It is the only viewing spot like that in the world currently, which we are sure would be great in the right season. In winter all you can see through the window is cold water.
We saw some other kinds fish too, including salmon fry and adult sturgeon (pictured below).
One of our favorites was a grebe. This is a bird that can swim! He paddled along the top of the water and then would dive down into the water. He eats fish but seemed to simply enjoy diving into the water as well. He witnessed him staying underwater for about 3 feet and 30 seconds in one dive! We were impressed.
We enjoyed Sapporo again, getting a great sushi lunch. We sat at the sushi bar, watching our chef (one of several) craft each piece we ordered. The fish was delicious and the texture was above and beyond anything we had had before. We most enjoyed trying several different cuts of tuna and comparing the flavor.
Later on, we saw the sushi bar had made an ice sculpture of the owner buying a giant tuna!
Thanks for the gift!
One of the highlights was getting to see the end result of the snow blocks the international teams were still carving the last time we were there. Here is a before (from our last visit to Sapporo) and after for Finland, who made a carving representing the different facets of our personality interacting in society:
Here is the winning entry, from Macao, of the crane dance of spring:
And one from Latvia, called “Wooden Dreams”, of what a tree dreams of!:
Dinner we found by navigating this narrow street full of hole-in-the-wall ramen shops:
The ramen was good and we are looking forward to trying a different place this weekend.
Chris got to ski yesterday. He went to to Mount Racey (Yubari), about 1:30h away from Chitose. It was snowing the whole day, during the bus ride and on the mountain.
NB: these photos were enhanced so you can see something else besides the snow!
There were a few inches of fresh power and a few glades had over a foot of unskiied powder!
Chris was also interviewed by a local TV reporter about coming to Mt. Racey.
The people were very helpful all day helping Chris navigate the shuttle bus system, the rental process, etc. despite him not speaking any Japanese. As a foreigner we really appreciate their hospitality welcoming us to their country.
Today was cold with more snow accumulation in the forecast. We took an easier day mostly inside, but with an excursion to the Sapporo brewery. Leaving the train station, we saw little but snow during our walk with a few exceptions for ice, but we eventually found the spotless factory. Sapporo Classic is a malty style of beer only sold on Hokkaido. We enjoyed a sample of Sapporo Classic and Sapporo Black at the end of the tour while even more snow was coming down.
The Snow Festival almost turned Meg into a snow sculpture too. But we really enjoyed all the things we saw:
Citizen sculptures: these were smaller sculptures made by local groups and organizations. Each group was able to pick their own design and there were about 50 of them total.
The large sculptures are huge buildings of snow made by national groups; towering several stories tall and built from thousands of tons of snow over the last month with hundreds of people working on each one. There were 7 of these total and they were all magnificent in size and detail. Each of them double as a stage for performances as well. The Arc de Triomphe is 1/3 of the size of the original which leaves it slightly over 5 stories tall! It is 17.5 meters tall, 24 meters wide and 18 meters deep. The sculpture of Kofukuji Temple in Nara, Japan is the one pictured below. All of the sculptures have that much detail but it is easy to see on that one. This is a temple we are hoping to see in the summer in Japan.
The snowboarding jump competition, Chris’ favorite, with professional snowboarders doing some impressive tricks. They were quite impressive doing jumps and flips off of the ramp (24 meters high and 60 meters long)!
We also watched J-pop groups perform and saw a dog disguised as a bear.
This was a candle light festival in the snow. Beautiful in its simplicity. This was a small town festival put on by locals with traditional dance and singing entertainment. Although nowhere as large as the previous festival, it was great to see local life and culture. We hope to continue to see both the large and extravagant as well as local aspects of life as we travel.