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Gishi no Mokusou

Alex Forencich's contemplations on Life, Engineering, and Japan

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Tag: Winter

Today we left Sapporo and rode the train to Niseko (ニセコ町). The town and surrounding region is widely known for the ski slopes on Mt. Yotei (羊蹄山 youteizan) and the surrounding peaks, including Niseko Annupuri (ニセコアンヌプリ). The train ride to Niseko is rather long as the train is basically a bus on tracks. To get to Niseko, we took trains on the Hakodate Line from Sapporo, changing trains at Otaru Station. The train we rode from Otaru worked like a city bus instead of a train, with passengers taking stop number tickets when they get on and then paying the fare on the display for their number when they get off. The train also didn’t go much faster than a bus down the single set of tracks. The stations the train stopped at on the way were tiny. I will be sure to get some pictures on the way out of Niseko; I didn’t have a good position on the train to take many pictures out the window.

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After a good night’s sleep on our first night in Sapporo, we spent most of the day walking around the Sapporo snow festival. Called Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (さっぽろ雪まつり) in Japanese, the festival is held annually in Sapporo. We only plan to visit the site in Odori Park (大通公園 odori kouen) as we will only be in Sapporo for one full day. The festival takes up most of the park’s 12 blocks in downtown Sapporo. Apparently the Japanese self-defense force brings in snow from around Sapporo and uses it to build the gigantic snow sculputures, known as daisetsuzo (大雪蔵). There are also many other, smaller snow sculptures as well, built by people from all over the world.

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This morning, we got up around 6 am or so to see the sunrise. I wasn’t really planning on going originally, but with all the commotion of everyone else waking up and running out the door the hope for sleep was futile, so I decided to go ahead and tag along anyway. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the sunrise at all because of the clouds. The wind on the deck was beastly as well and I got completely covered in nasty salt spray while I was out there. The UV filter on my lens also got completely nailed. Oh well. After breakfast and a futile attempt at taking a nap that degenerated into another game of rummy, the ferry arrived in Tomakomai.

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Today, we left Sendai for Tomakomai (苫小牧) on the Taiheiyo Ferry (太平洋フェリー). Somebody decided to take a nap shortly before leaving, so we left the International House with very little time to spare. From there, we took the bus to Sendai Station were just in time to catch the Senseki line for the port. We got off at Nakanosakae station (中野栄駅) with little time to spare, so we took taxis from there to the ferry terminal. We ended up arriving about 10 minutes before the ferry was scheduled to leave.

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As I said in my previous post, I would wait for the next bout of snow and then get up early and take some pictures. Well, that’s what I did yesterday. There was another snow storm night before last that left a very nice powdering of snow on everything, so I grabbed my camera and went for a nice long walk.

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Sendai holds an annual festival called the Pageant of Starlight or 光のページェント hikari no pejento. This year 550,000 LED lights were used to illuminate the trees down Jozenji dori (定禅寺通り). The lights are lit every night from December 12 through December 31st.

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We decided to attempt a Christmas dinner in the American style. However, seeing as we’re in Japan, it didn’t go quite as planned. The original idea was a nice large roast ham. We could do the ham. We could do the roast. The large part, though, evaded us. The largest hams we could find were only about fist sized. Mashed potatoes, easy peasy. But gravy? Fail. We ended up eating curry (with meat so it wasn’t that bad), baked potatoes (well, we had already bought them before realizing gravy doesn’t exist in Japan), two itty-bitty roast hams (cooked in a microwave for ovens are also scarce), and some canned pineapple and peach (hey, we’re college students–it’s less work!). Unfortunately, due to a scheduling miscommunication, I did not end up with any pictures of our miserable failure before it was eaten.

After eating, we put on a couple of movies–The History of the World, Part 1 and Rush Hour 3–and played several rounds of Jenga with an exceedingly annoying plastic Jenga set. I did manage to at least partially document the succession of failures and triumphs, so it wasn’t a total loss. After that we played a couple of rounds of twister with slightly confused rules and then went outside for a snowball fight. All in all it was an…interesting…evening.

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仙台からメリークリスマス!(sendai kara merii kurisumasu Merry Christmas from Sendai)

It snowed all night Christmas Eve, so we had a pleasantly white (albeit somewhat cold) christmas here in Sendai. Also, it’s time to give the new 7D a workout! 7Dの初雪だな (sebun dii no hatsu yuki da na it’s the 7D’s first snow, isn’t it)

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It rained today. Very hard. So much so, in fact, that one needed a boat in order to get to the cafeteria.

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Snow is here! Unforunately, it did not stick around all day long and melted quite quickly in the morning. It actually snowed for a while yesterday, but the ground did not get cold enough for the snow to stick until after nightfall. The end result was a beautiful yet beastly cold morning.

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