I have spent the last few days in Hikkaido, which is possibly as opposite as you could get to the hussle and bussle of Tokyo
I caught the Shinkansen from Sendai as far north as possible (travelling at more than 200kph), then switched to slower trains to travel through the worlds longest under-ocean tunnel to Hikkaido. I went to Nieseko to go skiing, which gets the second highest amount of snow in the world, and is powder heaven. Unfortunately I have no photos as, well, I was skiing!
I then moved on to Otaru, a seaside fishing village which is very popular amongst Japanese tourists. Call me crazy, but how could I resist the pull of an ice cream shop, even in this weather? Well, you can’t when they have flavors such as beer, crab, squid and sea urchin on offer!
I opted for the squid and sea urchin, double scoop. The sea urchin flavor had a fishy feel, but remained quite palatable. The squid had the same smell as an octupus my sister Ava caught on our beach holiday in January,
and had the texture and feel of the dark mud you would find in New Zealand’s South Island, but actually tasted fine
The main attraction of Otaru at the moment, however, is it’s snow festival. Nearby Sapporo has a much larger (but more commercial) version that attracts over 2 million people from around the world
There’s plenty great sculptures to be found, some with great effect like this giant candle-holder on a corner
Although the Japanese national drink is sake, they are big beer drinkers too. Hikkaido has a reputation for beer production, producing Sapporo beer, but the Weiss I had from this local brewery was delicious, with a slightly banana flavor to it
Otaru is making a name for itself in the blown glass world too, apparently. It’s not of great interest to me, but it was great to watch these craftsmen at work as they made glasses, decorations and bowls (the heat their shops gave off was a bonus, too).
I’m starting to get white legs, so it’s time for me to pack my bags and jump on a shinkansen south so I can get out my shorts!