Saturday, 31 December 2011

Otaru Outing

On the 28th, we went on a trip to Otaru, a city near Sendai. It was really pretty and a lot of fun, but so very very cold!

Along the canal looks really European! 

There was a queue to get your photo taken from this spot, so obviously, see queue join queue!

Cool sushi! Yummiest sushi ever for lunch, there are perks to being by the sea, even if it did make it very cold!

Otaru is famous for glass I made my own! Photos to follow when it's shipped to me!

I wasn't very good and the lady laughed at me a lot, but it was a lot of fun.

Anyone got 2,000,000 yen (£20,000) to spare? 

I'm a (very unattractive in this photo) fish

I have no idea why there was a gondola in this shop!

These are made of glass. Aren't they cool?

Amy and John making friends with a massive snowman outside one of the many sweet shops we went into for free samples :)

Lots of pretty stained glass everywhere

Pretty in the snow, especially while inside!

Escaping from the cold is a perfect excuse for coffee and cake

This shop sold music boxes, and is Christmas personified!

Don Quixote

This shop was so funny it deserves its whole own blog post. I'll let the photos speak for themselves!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Snow business

As I said in my last blog, skiing on Boxing Day didn't happen due to lots of snow, so we mostly just huddled indoors. But we did make the most of a break in the snow to go for a walk and get ramen for lunch.

John stuck in a phone box!

Soooo cheesy!

The last two days have been spent skiing! A lot of fun but just as difficult as I thought it would be! The first day we went to Moiwa, a slope right near Sapporo. It was easy to get to, just the subway to Suikawa and a 2 mile walk (or there is a bus from Makonamai but we didn't get it). Supposedly it's good for beginners, but there were actually too many groups of children about learning to ski, so the nursery slopes were packed :( A bit stressful for someone who had never put on skis before (ie ME!). But after lots of falling over, tears, words of encouragement from John and sweets from a lovely lovely Japanese lady, I finally started to get then hang of it, and tried the big slope. I still fell over a lot but it was a lot of fun! John pushed himself a bit to hard, but I was impressed how good he was since he hasn't put on skis for 11 years, and only went on one holiday then! Since I fell so much, I didn't dare take my camera with me, but here are a few shots I took before and after! 

Bridge on the walk there

My first ever ski site :)

Are you proud I managed this hill? It may look easy but it wasn't for me!

View from the top. Wow!

Skiing day two was at Sapporo Teine, a little further away, but much bigger and better! We got a transport, 4 hour lift pass and ski hire deal from JR Sapporo station for only 5850yen (£50). 

(The trains are really frequent, and buses at 9:10, 10:15, 11:50, 14:40 everyday plus 8:40, 9:40, 11:15, 12:10, 13:10, 14:10 weekends and holidays (takes 30 minutes to the top, you can get a timetable from the JR lady you buy the tickets from. I've put all the times here because I couldn't find one online anywhere). )

We went with Scott and Wayne, two Aussies we met on Christmas Eve. They were better than me, but not by so much that I felt too embarrassed!
We went right to the top area, Highland, and against my better judgement, got the lift right to the top. I must be mad!
Yes, right to the top. See that chairlift? I was on there, with skis on, fearing for my life!

It might have been a bit much, and the top of the green run down really tested my 1 day old skills, but slowly, slowly, I snowplowed my way to victory, and got all the way to the bottom! The run from Highland down to the lower course, Olympia, was fun for a real beginner like me, and a real confidence booster! Repeat, 2 more times, and I feel both completely knackered and like I have really accomplished something. So much fun! Wayne was braver than me at taking his camera today, so there's some better photos! 
Don't we look pro?

So pretty! I didn't ski all the way to the bottom (runs didn't go that far) but a good section of it!

At the bottom - I'd come from almost the highest point you can see, and I'd only fallen over once...about 10 meters before where this photo was taken!

What a fun few days in the snow!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas, Japan style!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! It's Boxing Day here (the 26th for those crazy non-Brits), and we were planning to go skiing but unfortunately the weather has decreed otherwise. So we've put that off until wednesday and we're going to have a lazy day instead!

Yesterday started off slowly...not surprising since John didn't get in until 7am! Oh well, I'll let him off since it;s his birthday as well as Christmas! Then we woke up and had presents, thanks to Mum, Terry, Stacey, Aunty Alison and John's Aunty June and Uncle John! :D
John in his new t-shirt!

We then headed out and got lunch.
This is Soup Curry, a Sapporo speciality. Most importantly, it had roast chicken, roast potatoes and roast vegetables in it. Almost a traditional Christmas Day lunch!

We then decided to make the most of all the snow and went to a park in central Sapporo. We visited a shrine, got our fortunes and prayed for good luck, and then played in the snow.
"I'm a big tree". It's a Peppy thing.

Pretty river

Walking to the shrine

Praying for good luck

Making snow angels

Ridiculous icicle

Winner of a kids Christmas tree decorating competition

After a short relax(and a skype chat with lovely lovely Stacey :D ), we headed out for tasty tasty sushi...what could be a better dinner for Christmas in Japan? Well KFC actually as that's what they eat here for Christmas (apparently due to a successful advertising campaign in the 1970's!). But we decided sushi was a better option!
The only thing better than sushi? Shinkansen sushi!

John ate crab innards. Gross.

Yes, that is burger sushi.

Yum yum yum! The whole idea of Christmas is to stuff yourself stupid, right???

We then headed to central Sapporo, and did some more highly traditional Christmas things....

Playing air hockey

Trip on a Ferris Wheel (according to Andrew on the phone "just what Baby Jesus did on the first Christmas"!). This is actually on top of a building. I'll take a photo another day!

How pretty in the snow!

We met a random girl who was dressed like this!

I'm being Japanese!!

Christmas was almost over, just one thing missing....cake!

Yummy Japanese Christmas Cake.

We had candles and sung Happy Birthday :D

A very different but very fun Christmas day!