Archive for February, 2007

Women’s marathon

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

They had an international women’s mararthon today in Yokohama and while I went to fetch my bike from the station, they ran past. It was quite an amazing set-up, since there were dozens of workers all over the place, each with their own warm jacket and hat. Whatever committee set up the race must have had deep pockets, because there were people patroling the lane every 20 metres or so. And this for as far as the eye could see. Plus many more people handing out flags and things.

Strangely, there were only about 10 or so people in the race! All that effort for just a few people! Must have been very expensive. There were police all around, and lots of media things. And this just in the relatively obscure area of Negishi.

Anyways, the Russians went on to win the race and Japan was a close 3rd. Pretty good!

Here’s a site with the results:

Taxi from Tokyo to Yokohama

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

I worked on the tender yesterday quite late and missed my last train home at midnight, so the company paid for my taxi back home. 15000 JPN, or around $175 NZD! Crazy. Next time I will plan to catch the last train home instead.


Monday, February 12th, 2007

Well thankfully another year of footy is upon us and I watched the opening game of the Reds vs. the Hurricanes and was quite disappointed. Bad play, ok reff-ing and a loss by the ‘canes. Not so great. Can’t wait until the ABs are released so they can go back to their respective teams. The Hurricanes played Waikato this weekend, so hopefully that’ll be a better game.

Sapporo yukimatsuri trip (snow festival) 2007

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

We got back from our Sapporo snow festival trip yesterday and it was a good one, although various people weren’t feeling well for parts of it.

We left rather early on Sunday to fly off to the snow festival. The trip there went like clockwork and it’s always so much easier when one flies national rather than international. There’s a lot less hassle.

The kids enjoyed the trip there, because they got to ride a bus, train, bus, plan, train and then a short walk to the hotel. The flight out to Sapporo was nearly canceled due to bad weather (snow) in Sapporo, but luckily everything went along with just a 10 minute delay. The trip over was good with everybody behaving themselves quite well. Everything was very easy to find and I was surprised to see a lot of english on the signs etc. in Sapporo.
Lauren had a late sleep in the hotel while Evan and I explored the outside. Evan loved the snow and couldn’t get enough of running through it, throwing snowballs at me, or climbing the piles of snow by the curb.

It was quite funny because the roads were all covered in snow (it had been snowing at least all day), but the sidewalks were all completely snow-free! I thought that was interesting, because in Amerika, it would be the other way around. It kinda makes sense, because there are so many more pedestrians on the sidewalks than cars on the road, and the cars are used to the snowy weather anyways. The other thing that caught my eye was that people were walking around with umbrellas, which also made a lot of sense if you don’t want to get wet/snowy.

The family woke from their nap and we went out for a walk and to look for somewhere to eat. We checked out some of the snow sculptures and saw a bit of the city. Then we went to find Ramen Alley, which I guess is the birthplace of the Hokkaido ramen and definately the birthplace Miso Ramen, which is miso soup with ramen. We finally found it after a bit of poking around and most of the shops in the alley were closed, although the ones that were open seemed to have tonnes of foreigners in them. Very odd. Anyways, we settled on one and had some yummy soup and gyoza. The kids were pretty good and we were ready to leave when a truckload of americans came into the shop, all very brash and loud, expecting the owners to speak english to them.

Nicole wasn’t feeling well at all at this stage and we went home to go to bed, while I stayed up and did a bit of study.

The next day was a clear day and milder than the day before. We went up the Sapporo tower to see the city and get some souvenirs for people. From the tower, one can see the whole length of the Odori gardens, with the mountains in the background. From the hotel also, we could see the mountains in the background – a lovely sight and reminded me a bit of Wellington or some of the Swiss/Austrian cities.

After that we went to the Nijo Ichiba fish market, which was very interesting. Nicole and I got to try some crab leg which a vendor graciously offered to us. It was very yummy of course. Lauren loved all the sights, but Evan got scared of the live crabs that they had there and wanted to get away.

Next on the agenda was the Moiwa mountain, which is a tourist mountain on the edge of town. We could take a streetcar (old-fashioned one – yah!) to the far end of town, then take a rope-way up the mountain. On top, we took this snow tractor thing, which Evan loved to the very top, which had a look-out and a restaurant. Not too many people out that day.

At the top there was also an “ice bar”. We walked around and there was some guy cleaning up inside, so he invited us in. It was a fairly large igloo type building with lights embedded in the walls and lots of icicles hanging from the ceiling. The hanging icicles scared me a bit, because they could probably hurt quite a bit if it dropped on your head. Nevertheless, we had a short chat with the guy in Japanese, who we found out made the igloo himself and that they open for business, serving drinks in the evening. That would be quite a novel way to spend an evening.

We headed back into town to give Lauren a nap and afterwards we made our way to the dinner we had arranged. It was at a Kirin place and they served ジンギスカン (ghenghis khan) which is sort-of famous in Sapporo, and is lamb meat, which is barbequed on a platter in front of you. The kids didn’t eat it, but Nicole and I did.

In the evening the kids fell asleep pretty quickly (as did Nicole) and I watched “2001 a space odyssey” on tele. I need to read up on the symbolism of the movie, because I didn’t get the ending.
The next day we were up early again, had the buffet breakfast in the hotel and wandered around the yukimatsuri, which was now officially open. We saw most of the sculptures and I started feeling pretty bad. A couple of trips to the washroom told me I was doing pretty poorly. The kids loved the gardens and they got to ride a couple different ice slides and there was a miniature train track that took kids for rides which they loved. We walked out to the Susukino ice sculptures, which we briefly saw on Sunday night when we first arrived. It was raining now though, so many of the sculptures were falling apart. We taxied to the hotel, grabbed our stuff and caught the train to the airport. Around this time was the worst time for me, with me throwing up the whole time in the train toilet. Yuck. We caught the plane back and I was still really sick when we got home. The next day I couldn’t go to work – I also hadn’t eaten in a day.

Despite the various people being sick (Evan claimed to be sick on the second day, but that was probably a sympathy sickness and because he was tired of walking) but the trip itself was brilliant. We really liked the city and the matsuri was really fun. We’d really like to be able to go back to Sapporo some day.

Oh yes, some photos: