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On our first full day in Sapporo, we awoke to snowfall. Looking out our hotel window, it looked like it hadn’t stopped snowing all night – the fluffy flurries piled high street side, and the pavement merely a white path through the snow. The frigid view from our room first thing in the morning had us heading for a warm cup of coffee – and it was a good thing we came prepared (thanks to my husband who says he is forever a Boy Scout – always prepared). Our hotel room had a generous sized pot to boil water and plenty of green tea but no coffee. The coffee that we brought was packaged in little paper cup like things, with appendages. So hubby figured out how to “hang” the appendages over the edges of the cup so that the coffee packet itself was suspended in the middle. Then we poured the boiling water over the coffee packet…slowly… very slowly, we were warned. The process was pretty interesting and the coffee wasn’t bad, but not nearly as good as Community Coffee from home.

Before leaving the hotel, we went down to the hotel breakfast buffet and I must tell you that the Japanese really know how to do breakfast! In addition to the typical (American) fare, there was fish, rice, soup, and all sorts of teas and juices as well as coffee. After eating our fill we headed outside for the one block walk to the edge of Odori Park and the snow sculptures. “Odori” means large street in Japanese and Odori Park is 12 blocks long. Compared to the streets near Tokyo, where I live, all the streets in Sapporo are “large streets!”

Having learned our lesson about slipping and falling, we strapped our black rubber elasticized snow cleats to our shoes and set off. And wow, did the cleats make a difference – highly recommend them! The first section of the park that we visited was the smaller sculptures, maybe 7-10 feet tall. Since that day was the first day of the festival, some of the sculptures were still being constructed. There were cartoon characters (anime), children, animals, flowers, etc…almost anything you can imagine. Of course, most of the signs in front of each statue were in Japanese, so we didn’t know exactly what they were. Some were just cute, but some were very detailed. One sculpture of a man’s head, was so realistic, it looked like the eyes were watching us.

The large sculptures were very impressive – all very big and some very intricate. My favorite, not the most intricate though, was a sculpture honoring the Japanese Olympic team. It featured a ski jump with the skier in the air, woman’s hockey player, speed skater, and figure skater. Maybe I liked it so much because I love the Olympics, but for whatever reason that was my favorite. There were also two huge sculptures which incorporated a slide for kiddies. The kids climbed up the back of the sculpture and then with looks of pure joy, zoom down the snow slide to the arms of an attentive worker. The sheer joy on the children’s faces was a sight to behold!

One of the most impressive sculptures was one entitled “Malaysia Square” which depicted a huge building with intricate architectural details, complete with a clock tower! Usually the sculptures in Odori Park are made of snow, but there was one building made of ice which gave off a beautiful blue glow. Another one, entitled “Love” depicted children and was another of my favorites. Mid-day was fast approaching and the aroma from the food vendors was really tempting, but we had a destination in mind – off to the famous “Ramen Alley!”