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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sapporo Snow Festival 2014

The Sapporo Snow Festival has started again. This is one week with crazy amounts of tourists, and since I have to pass through the festival area to get to work it takes me 10 minutes longer than normal to commute. The festival has a few big snow sculptures, a huge amount of smaller (2x2x2 meters) sculptures, and tents selling festival food. There are also performances in front of some of the larger sculptures from time to time. There were slightly fewer big sculptures than last year.

Skate rink
Snow board jump slope

There is also a skate rink just under the Sapporo TV Tower, where you can borrow skates and skate around. Nearby, they also build a huge snow board and ski trick jumping slope.

Lots of tourists
People passing in front of lots of smaller snow sculptures

Since there are lots of tourists coming to Sapporo during the festival, during this week everyone (naturally) assumes I am a tourist too, since I am obviously not Japanese. This means lots of people come up to me and talk to me in English for various reasons. This year I was asked to answer a questionnaire about miso soup. "Have you ever tried miso soup before?" ... "Yes". If you manage to avoid miso soup for several years in Japan, you would have to be trying very hard, I think, haha.

Selfie in front of one of the smaller sculptures
Photo taken by random tourists that were impressed that I could ask them to take this photo in Japanese

This year's new trend was projection mapping. Last year there were two areas where they used projection mapping on the snow sculptures and this year this was the biggest theme. The Audi snow sculpture and projection mapping was the best, though the other ones were nice too.

UHB snow sculpture
When I went to the UHB (the TV company that broadcast the program I was in on Monday morning) I took some photos of the sculpture myself, but I thought it would also be nice to have a photo of myself in front of this sculpture. I usually ask random strangers nearby for help, but there is also a small platform where you can stand so that the sculpture and you are well balanced and where staff will take photos of you. This kind of service is available in front of all the bigger sculptures. There is usually a huge line, though. This time, there were only 10 people or so standing in line, so I lined up behind them and had my photo taken by the "professionals".

Two funny girls taking photos of tourists

There were two young girls there, asking people to say "雪祭り" ("yuki matsuri", snow festival) to make smiling faces (normally, in Japan you say "cheese" when having your picture taken). They took photos of you with a professional setup they had, and then they took photos of you with your camera or cellphone or whatnot. When you leave the photo area, another girls comes up with the printed version of the photo they took first using their own camera, and you can buy it (though it is expensive) to get a photo with good quality (most cellphone cameras are not that great in dark conditions).

Photo of me in front of the UHB sculpture holding a snowman, taken by the funny girls

The two girls thought it was funny that I knew "a little Japanese" (since I asked them to take a photo with "this camera" in Japanese when handing over my own camera). There were lots of toys in a basked there, and I asked if I was supposed to hold something when having my picture taken. They said that indeed, I should. I picked a snowman, and one of the girls asked if I should not have a penguin too. There are no penguins in Hokkaido (outside the zoos), so I am not sure what connection to Hokkaido that would have, so I said it would be fine with just the snowman.

The photo taken and printed out while the photo above was taken

The girl asked med to say "snow festival" first, and for the second photos she suggested "イケメン" ("ikemen"), which the other girl also thought was funny. When I was leaving, they asked if I understood the word, which is a word you use to compliment men (it means roughly "cool man" or "good looking man"). I said that indeed I did understand the meaning (this is a very common word, so if you live in Japan and do not know this word, I would be surprised), and they laughed even more. But then again, even after telling people I have lived several years in Japan, people are sometimes surprised that I know even very rudimentary Japanese.

Photo wrapping

The girls were funny, so I bought the expensive printout of the photo they took too.

Projection Mapping

Big Sculptures

Children dancing in mini-skirts

Small Sculptures

Sculpture with characters from the Lupin the 3rd manga, but not including Lupin himself!

Takikawa Christel doing her now famous "omotenashi2

Every year someone makes a Japanese 9 with a funny title

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