Last day at the Sapporo Snow Festival

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Mar 17, 2013

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Flag of Japan  , Hokkaido,
Monday, February 11, 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.
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