Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sapporo snow festival

The snow festival in Sapporo is a phenomenal event that happens once a year, and attracts (apparently around 2 MILLION) tourists to Sapporo, most of which are Japanese from other areas, but many are also foreigners.

The festival lasts for one week, but for people who live here, the preparations start way before that! The snow plowed off the roads are gathered to be used to make the sculptures. This year however, as it was not near as cold as previous winters, extra snow was needed and brought over from around Sapporo (or so I heard).

I have already uploaded the photos to facebook, but I will upload my favorites again and briefly talk about them.

My favorite sculpture. It is just too cool and no words can describe its awesomeness!

It's so interesting to see how many cultures have similar outtakes of the same subjects. This is an Indonesian sculpture that really reminds me of the Orthodox st. Georges statue fighting the dragon.

You would think that there would be this balance between large-scale and finely-done sculptures but to have both combined is very impressive!

The Lion King musical has been running for a while here so they had a big ass sculpture of Timon and Pumba!

The temperature drops 5 degrees as soon as you get there and stand in front of the HUGE ASS snow statues! However these guys are singing and dancing in half sleeves!!!


Awesome Chinese temple! With all the details that goes with it.

The slope made for snowboarders and skiers jumping around day and night! Too awesome! Mules we need to do this!

Ice jaguar!

The long-awaited return!

People of the world (all two or three of you who read this) rejoice! For the blog is back... with a vengeance. It's been a while since I've written anything, and the more I waited before starting again, the more things I had to write about, and the less I felt like tackling it.. procrastination is a warm and comfy bed...

Anyway, much and more has happened since last I updated my blog, including but not limited to:
1- The Sapporo snow festival in February
2- The Toohoku earthquake in March
3- My birthday in April
4- Beer garden in August
5- Carine's wedding (couldn't attend :( )
6- Majed's wedding and my trip back home for a week passing through Moscow
7- Rami's wedding (couldn't attend either :( )
8- Rainbow march in September

I will write a post about each of the afore-mentioned events. I might also think of other stuff along the way, but first, I should talk about the earthquake, and the resulting nuclear power plant incident.

My last post was about Iron Maiden. This was partly due to the fact that I was going to watch their concert in Tokyo. I arrived in Tokyo the day before the earthquake, and was in bed on the 8th floor when it hit. I know people that were on the 30th floor when it hit and so my experience pales in comparison to their own, but it was still quite scary.

Living in Japan for a year already (when the earthquake happened) makes you accustomed to the occasional earthquake. And you learn to shrug it off as a monthly (or more) event. That is how that one started. I was lying on the bed reading when the room started shaking. Normal stuff. This always happens for a couple seconds and then subsides. Then it started getting stronger. Stuff started falling off shelves. This is when I stopped reading and started paying attention to the shaking, which at this point, instead of stopping, was getting stronger. Drawers were starting to open and throw their contents on the floor. That is when I started thinking of the disaster prevention training we had when we first arrived, and the earthquake simulation we participated in. So I grabbed a pillow, covered my head and crouched near the cupboard (the simulation suggested ducking under the table but there were none and the next best thing I guess is either the bath tub or near something solid).

A little while later, the shaking stopped. And so did the phone lines. That was the very first time I was ever really glad I had a facebook account. We were all checking up on each other through it. The subway in Tokyo was also shut down, and there was so much traffic on the roads that people just walked to their homes after work (of course everyone finished their work day first). A friend had to walk 7 hours to get home. News of the resulting tsunamis that hit started spreading, along with the danger of a nuclear meltdown in the Fukushima plant. Supermarkets and convenience stores all over Tokyo went empty. People rushed to buy supplies and especially bottled water.

The international media however, was a whole other story... I lived my whole life in Lebanon. As such I have witnessed how the international media blows news out of proportion and our families and friends abroad become more worried about us than we are! What happened in March took that to whole new heights. Russian news were showing footage of Sendai that was hit by a tsunami while describing the ruined state Tokyo was in (a fire and some partially destroyed old buildings was the actual damage I think). I don't feel like talking more about it because it pisses me off.

The next day, I went to the onsen (hot springs) with a friend because I was not really worried, and had a relaxing afternoon. That is when my friend's parents started freaking out, and so we decided to go visit my Lebanese friend Dina living in Kyoto that was far and safe enough. We took the express train and realized it was full of women and children. The fathers stayed at work, but sent their children away just in case it was dangerous to be in Tokyo. All evidence suggested it was safe enough to be in Tokyo (opposite of what outside media was claiming) but better safe than sorry. Off to Kyoto. We spent a day there and it was snowing so couldn't really see much of Kyoto, and the next day we went south to Kobe and flew to Sapporo where it was nice and safe far away from all the trouble.

What the news never showed was the thousands of people who lost their homes and were living in schools all over. They didn't show the scores of people preparing rice balls to send to these poor people, they didn't talk about everyone else going on with their lives as best they could, going to work