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From Otaru city, we boarded our bus and set out for Sapporo with snow coming down in bucket loads. We arrived at and checked in to our hotel and had about an hour to rest and prepare to board the bus again for our Genghis Khan dinner adventure at the Sapporo Beer Garden.

Genghis Khan is a meal of mutton and vegetables that you cook at your table on a cast-iron dome shaped butane cooker. I was a little hesitant about the mutton, remembering my father’s description and intense dislike of mutton. He was stationed in New Guinea during WW II and was apparently served mutton fairly frequently.

Boarding the bus, I wondered if I could get enough vegetables to fill me up during this 1 1/2 hour all-you-can-eat-and-drink event. I was immediately distracted from my worries by the snow. Wow – it was still snowing hard, but the snowflakes were so large they looked like pieces of Kleenex floating down from the sky…no doubt the biggest snowflakes I had ever seen!

We arrived at the complex of buildings that is the home of Sapporo beer. Walking down the sidewalk, it really felt like a Winter Wonderland. The sidewalks themselves were solid white-packed snow with 4-5 foot snow piles on either side, which felt like snow tunnels. Colored lights adorned trees, bushes and arches along the way. It was incredibly beautiful. We located the correct “hall” and entered.

The seats for our group were reserved and each family chose a table. Almost immediately our food was brought to the table. Two different cuts of mutton were served, both thinly sliced. One looked like bacon slices and the other, ham slices. Cabbage and onions were brought to our table as well. We figured out how to light our tabletop cooker and started cooking.

I expected the mutton to have a strong flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t. On the other hand, it was not the most delicious meat I had tasted. However, each person had their own bowl of a special “dipping sauce” which was fabulous!!! We cooked and dipped and cooked and dipped, and it was yummy. As long as you kept asking, they kept bringing food. We ate way too much but rationalized it by reminding ourselves that we would never be here again.

As we left the building and made our way back to the bus through the “snow tunnel,” I noticed a soft flickering coming from a snow drift ahead. As we approached, we saw that someone had made deep tunnels in the side of the snow drift and placed a votive candle deep inside each tunnel. Candlelight in the snow…a beautiful end to a beautiful day!

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