Cold is a State of Mind, or so Sheryl Jordan would have me believe, but I'm actually of the opinion that it's more a state of flesh. And skin. And hands. At the beginning of winter I took agin gloves - they make me clumsy, they prevent me from using my phone and I hate to lose sensations of touch. I am like a blind person. With sight. Which I guess makes me "like a person". And I am.
This time of year in Sapps is an exciting one - 'tis the coldest and snowiest month, and Hokkaido celebrates this curse with numerous snow and ice festivals. The Snow Festival proper, that which draws millions of tourists every year commenced on Monday. It's a pretty big deal. Big enough for Coke to make its very own can:
Talk to me when Coke have considered your details worth emblazoning on a mass-marketed vessel and I might consider you worth taking pictures of.
I briefly visited the site yesterday evening, but found myself short by several layers of enough clothes, and so lasted only about three blocks worth of magnificence before I sought refuge underground in the nearest subway station. Which then turned out to be a weird parallel universe when I found myself on a train that seemed to be entirely full of New Zealanders. I sat and stared as fern tattoos and crass vowels surrounded me. I was anticipating the haka at any moment. It didn't happen, for which I am fervently grateful, as I am certain that any Japanese people present would have immediately committed harakiri out of pure shock.
I aim to visit properly on Thursday evening, so expect a post about big white things (foreigners)(or snow sculptures)(probably both) imminently.
The weekend just gone was a delightful one, as I played hosts to two Kiwi friends visiting from down South. I told them that they had come on a good weekend - the weather was a balmy 2 degrees when they arrived. They looked at me with barely concealed disgust and disdain as they skidded on the ice, the usual temperature in their town hovering around 10-12 degrees.
Luckily, there were many things in Sapporo to distract them from the weather and the frostbite. Like this, for example:
...or maybe this...
This dude was just wandering around the streets.. alas, I kid. I know him. I attended his birthday party. Little did I know what was going on below. Actually, he was perhaps the most appropriately attired person at Saturday night's entertainment - a sexy 80's party, also known as a "Wear as Few Clothes and as Big Hair as Possible" Party. A blatant middle finger to the weather forecast.
I wore fake eyelashes:
And that's all! No, really.
The next day, I used the presence of friends to behave like a big hairy tourist, and road-tripped out to Niseko for coffee (most people go for skiing, but I have better priorities) and to Otaru for their version of the Snow Festival. There was a lot of loveliness:
Are you bored of snow yet? Man up.
You're doing really well.
This is your reward:
I won the fight, in case you're wandering. He was totally predictable. But I'm not going to go into detail. First rule of Fight Club. Even with bears.
In short, Otaru Festival truly magical. Cold, still, full of light. Also, full of tourists and pushy Japanese men with overlarge cameras. Despite that, very romantic. So romantic, in fact, that, standing at one end of a canal full of candles, Aravin and I had a sneaky pash. Well, he was asking for it:
And parted mouths to find one aforementioned overlong camera thrust in our faces. So, if you see our PDA on a brochure for Otaru, let me know will you? There's no business like snow business.
In all honesty, it was nice putting aside all pretence of being a local (talking quietly, bowing, not scowling at old ladies who thrust you bodily out of the way on the subway, not wearing enough clothes for the climate, saying "excuse me" a lot, eating too much fish, walking with teeny tiny steps, eschewing umbrellas in the snow, not jay-walking, carrying around branded shopping bags, considering "cute" the ultimate compliment, acting surprised that it's snowing etc) and just being an out-and-out tourist. Even if they clearly think we're really dumb: