So it’s cold here and slippery and I highly recommend it to you all! My first day was spent wandering the centre of Sapporo and discovering Starbucks…day well spent. Thursday was a little more eventful. This was my first adventure in the snow and it was fun, until I got lost. I left the station and headed for Moerenuma Park which was to be followed by the Sapporo Beer Museum. Everything went well until my piss poor excuse for orienteering and the extremely useless map ended with me taking the wrong turn. I kept thinking to myself “That chimney really makes this walk to the park seem a little dirty…oh well”, that was until I came to…the beer museum. I’d take a right instead of a left at some point and here I was, but as they say when life gives you lemons…go drink cheap beer.

For anyone looking to enjoy this historic place it’s totally free…if you show yourself around. You even get to drink beer at the end, for 600 yen you can get your hands on 3 beers and unlike most museums actually enjoy what they’re preserving.

Thursday night I finally got to hang out with the guy I’d come all this way to catch up with, Andrew! Ash (Andrew’s girlfriend), Andrew and I went for ramen which was superb, although I’ve since been unable to locate it again. After dinner things quickly returned to how it was when we lived together – an alcoholic mess. Notice to all of you who have not yet experienced StrongZeros…go easy! We did not, and by the time we headed out around 11pm it was a blur, but I do remember the following events:

  • Went to TMC Bar, where we tried Kyushu sake, and Andrew tried to convince them in Japanese to pepper my next beer… so they peppered his instead
  • Flagged a car down, practically hijacked it and convinced the guy to take us to our next bar – he declined joining us for drinks as he had a wife to go home to
  • Drank further with Andrew’s friend and basically went beyond a point of no return
  • Left without paying the bill fully
  • Slipped and cracked my jaw on the ice while Andrew ran away and got into a cab and left me behind
  • I wandered around aimlessly not knowing where I was until Ash found me in the local park and helped me home – Andrew had shown up not knowing where I was

That about covers our antics from the night, and waking up the next day around 3pm kind of put a stop to our plans of heading up to the mountains and sitting in an onsen. Needless to say Friday was spent recovering from our idiocy.

Today was a whole other matter. I set out determined to get everything done and headed through the Odori park. Normally this would be a scenic stroll that is recommended for all visitors to Sapporo but unfortunately right now it’s all under construction in order to get ready for the famous Sapporo winter festival. My loss, Hokkaido’s gain at the beginning of February. The walk was slippery and long, but eventually I found my way to the Hokkaido Shrine just in time to watch them burn their new years decorations. They believe that if you stand by the fire as you burn them your year will be filled with good luck…so I tried to soak up some warmth.

The shrine was beautiful if not extremely busy with people from everywhere coming in to make their prayers and wishes known. I was literally the only non-Japanese person there and boy oh boy was I getting some looks. Figuring I’d overstayed my already cold welcome I headed up towards the zoo so I could finally get to see the Okurayama Ski Jump. The walk was stunning, and walking through the snowy woods was a dream come true!

First stop was at a much smaller jump which I was personally escorted up to the top of by a very friendly Japanese man who loved Australians – shout out to you my friend, it didn’t cost me a cent !

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The view was lovely, but I knew getting to the top of the Olympic ski jump would be a whole other level. So a 20 minute walk up the hill later and I stood in awe of just how bloody far they jump.

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It is a 500 yen round trip and it’s worth every cent. They have beer up there, what more could you want? The view is spectacular and aside from two other Australian girls who left 15 minutes after my arrival, I was alone for the majority of the evening. I had timed it so that I could see it during the afternoon, dusk and night time and all three are spectacular. If you’re in Sapporo don’t let this place pass you by!

They let you stay as long as you need, and if you spend a little extra yen (400 for the pendant, 200 for the chain) you can get your name and date engraved on a coin that proves you were here – so why not? If you’re in this part of Japan, before heading off to ski the slopes, go and see how the professionals do it. You won’t be disappointed!

The walk home was uneventful, but needless to say by the time I got home I was pooped! I think tomorrow I’ll go to an Onsen to unwind.