Sapporo – The City in a Snow Globe
It’s been a while. I have a little free time now so I thought I would do a brief post on our Christmas activities – namely those in Sapporo.
We had been meaning to visit the city for a while, having considered it as a possible destination to do a language course. Whilst we never ventured outside of the city, and therefore couldn’t really say whether or not the claims by many that Hokkaido is host to many of Japan’s natural beauty spots were founded, we did have a good chance to get a feel for the city. On the whole, it was positive.
The flight (a trifle compared to some of the beasts we have done of late) was a mere hour and a half and in reality felt much shorter. Although, as usual, the estimated time of boarding was wide of the mark, as were the revised times we were given afterwards. There’s no room for optimists in the service industry – just be bloody honest.
In terms of first impressions, there was one overriding one, that being ‘bloody hell it’s a bit cold isn’t it?’ One thing I found surprising, given the fact that I have never been skiing, is the power of a UV charged lump of snow to render you partially blind. I had trouble opening my eyes fully once I arrived back in – the significantly less white – Tokyo.
Christmas – as we are finding in Japan – is a rather empty affair, with many people going about their business as any other day. Starbucks (and more depressingly KFC), of course, fully embrace the holiday as a profit boosting exercise, but otherwise it seems to fall by the wayside. Whilst the religious element has never really contributed to my own enjoyment of the festive season, some guy being born in suspicious circumstances does give us all an excuse to get together with our friends and family, and to remember for once that all that stuff you have been worrying about all year is actually insignificant.
At least we had snow. That’s the real Coca-cola Christmas we all dream of, right?
New Year’s was eventful. We spent the night at the top of Roppongi Hills with many a drunken reveller. The music was a tad atrocious, the band coming out for the big one at midnight seemingly only capable of shouting ‘Yeah’ and ‘Come On’ at each other, whilst doing some good impressions of walking on hot coals. The view was, as was to be expected, pretty amazing.
On the way home we had the misfortune to pass through Roppongi centre, where a host of people were in the process of clumsy, attempted copulation, throwing up into drains and queuing for McDonald’s. I’m pretty sure I saw a dead guy crumpled into a heap by the pavement, his leg tucked awkwardly behind his back. His face was too pale for him to be healthy, but the jury is out on whether he had actually expired. The people around him, at least, didn’t seem too concerned.
Just a small note. The most popular band in Japan (they had all five top selling singles the last time I checked) and an inspiration to many a teenage girl and perverted lonely business man alike, recently visited a shrine that venerates war dead, even those that are considered criminals due to certain atrocities carried out during wartime. While I don’t feel too strongly about the shrine myself, it seems irresponsible for teenage idols to basically endorse it and propagate the growing nationalism in Japan. This combined with the hints that the new Japanese prime minister (considered a strong nationalist) is considering retracting an apology to many Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during wartime, and we are looking an interesting time ahead. Watch this space (from behind the sofa).