Thursday Doors – Otaru (part 1!)

Otaru is one of the loveliest little towns I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. It’s a coastal town on the western side Hokkaido (Japan’s northernmost island), and it used to be the island’s financial centre because of its role in shipping and trade with other countries. Maybe it was just because it was winter, but it seemed like a sleepy little town when we visited (I mean that in the nicest, most affectionate way).

Since the main purpose of our trip to Otaru was to see the Snow Light Path, I hadn’t really researched much about the town, and about other things to see and do there (also I didn’t have that much time for extensive research before the trip). But I generally don’t have trouble finding interesting things, and keeping myself entertained when I’m in a new town/city, so I figured it’d be fine. Besides, one of the friends I was going with had already done some research into it. As it turned out, we were sufficiently preoccupied during the day.

Continue reading

Otaru pt 1 – daytime wanderings (mostly food)

Pretty sure I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I have a bit of a soft spot for small towns. Not sure how I’d go living in one for a long time, but they sure are lovely places to visit. One of my most favourite places in Japan was a small rural town: Otaru is located somewhere west of Sapporo, in Hokkaido, and we visited on February 8th.

Otaru is only about half an hour from Sapporo by train. Things like this amaze me because sometimes it takes over half an hour to get from one part of Brisbane to another by train – on one train line, travelling through the same city!

Continue reading

Asahikawa pt 2 – Winter Festival

This year, the Asahikawa Winter Festival was held over the same week as the Sapporo Snow Festival. Since Asahikawa isn’t too far from Sapporo, it was an easy decision to add it to our itinerary when KF and I visited Japan in February. It is a considerably smaller city (about a fifth (?) of the population of Sapporo) so the festival wasn’t quite as big as Sapporo’s, but still worth the trip.

Continue reading

Asahikawa pt 1 – Asahiyama Zoo

I’ve lived my whole life in Australia, in a place that doesn’t snow. Growing up, I’d watch American movies and TV shows (and probably some British ones too), and always see those stereotypical scenes of children waking up to snow (usually on or around Christmas), and I’d think how wonderful that would be (on any day of the year). So you can probably imagine my delight, on the morning February 7th (yes, these posts are taking a lot longer than I’d originally foreseen), when I peered out the window of our Sapporo hotel, and saw flurries of glorious snow falling from the sky!

The snow continued to fall quite heavily as we left our hotel and made our way to Susukino Station. I could not take the smile from my face. (I was probably also still on a high from the Sapporo Snow Festival the day before.)

Continue reading