Last day at the Sapporo Snow Festival
Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
70Trip End Mar 17, 2013
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Today is the last day of the Sapporo Snow Festival as well as my last day in Sapporo. It was cloudy in the morning. I walked to Odori Park and started walking east through the Sapporo Snow Festival toward the Sapporo TV Tower. I expected it to be relatively empty since the weekend was over but it was quite crowded.
My destination was the Ni-jo Ichiba market. Since I've seen everything in the park a number of times I walked part of the way underground through what's known as Aurora Town, one of at least two underground shopping arcades in Sapporo. I eventually had to come back up and walk the last couple of blocks above ground.
There were some interesting seafood displays at the market but it was smaller than I expected. I had seen it all fairly quickly. One of the most common things being sold was Red King Crab. I've since looked online and I was surprised to find that it apparently is all imported from Alaska. Here I thought it was a market for the fresh catch brought in by local fishermen.
I then decided to go to Hokkaido Jingu, a Shinto temple on the western outskirts of town. I took the train from Odori Station to Maruyama-koen Station. I then headed east since my Lonely Planet guidebook says the temple is a few blocks in that direction. When I didn't find it I asked someone and was pointed in the opposite direction. I eventually got to a park and was pointed up the road into the park.
I came across a small shrine. I was afraid that that was what I was looking for but I waited for someone to wander by and they pointed me further into the park. I eventually came to a large temple.
There were quite a few people in the courtyard of the temple but I didn't see anyone going in. I eventually found an entrance. I was told that normally I wouldn't be able to go in unless I was praying but that today was special since it was Foundation Day, which is a holiday marking the start of the country sort of like America's Independence Day. Japan's a lot older though since they're celebrating something that happened in 660BCE or 2,671 years ago. I was directed to a waiting room.
Eventually the people in the waiting room were directed into a space at the rear of the temple. A monk started to speak. He soon moved to the front of the temple and started chanting. Eventually a couple more people joined in singing and playing a drum. At the end people were called up to the barrier separating the rear of the temple from the front. They were given a conifer branch, which they then placed on the barrier. After a few words were spoken by both them and the monk they then headed for the exit. There was nobody to translate for me so I only have a vague sense of what was going on.
The temple was quite attractive. The interior is very elegantly done up in light-colored woods with lots of brass and gold accents. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to take pictures of the interior.
I took a train back to Suskino Station and walked to my hotel. I was thinking of heading to Otaru, a nearby town that has their own snow festival but inertia set in and I decided not to go. I have to get up early tomorrow to catch a bus to Niseko. I headed out in the evening for dinner and then turned in early.