The visit at the chocolate factory (see part 3) took just a few minutes longer than expected, but it was enough to make us miss both a train and a bus we could have used, so we had to wait almost one hour for the next bus. On the plus side this gave us time to buy some lunch. The bus trip took more than one hour, but while boring it has an advantage: Bus time means nap time. I woke up a while before we reached 小樽 (Otaru), so I had some time to talk and enjoy the view down a white hillside and over a dark blue bay.
We arrived at the bus station just in front of the Otaru railway station, where a man was working on what looks like a snow Shinkansen to me. Otaru is a smaller town with even more snow than Sapporo. We split up, and my first stop was the harbor, where I could see a Japan Coast Guard ship, small snowed in boats…
…and how to deal with lots of snow.
Otaru has its own snow festival, called 小樽雪あかりの路 (Otaru yuki akari no michi, “Otaru path of the snow lights”). While it is a lot smaller than the Sapporo snow festival, I think I like this one even more. Sure, there are no big, house-sized sculptures, but there is as much love and attention to detail, and in the evening everything is illuminated by thousands of candles – very beautiful, warm and dreamy. 🙂 The festival site was crawling with people.
During the late afternoon I could see people working on the sculptures, and after sunset the famous Otaru canal was lit up by many small lamps. I suppose this explains the festival’s name.
Enjoy the photos! I recommend going to the festival yourself if you can.
Sadly my camera ran out of power during the evening, so I could not take pictures of some nice things, for example the “Great Wall of China” sculpture. It wasn’t very high, but was winding along the side of a snow hill for at least 6 meters, with candles in the middle.
We went back to Sapporo by train and arrived around 8 pm. This day’s dinner was special: A place called “Shall we SWEETS!” almost has to be good, right? It’s all-you-can-eat buffet with a heavy focus on cake, waffles and other – guess what? – sweets. At 1,680 Yen for 90 minutes not exactly cheap, but considering what we got I think the price was acceptable.
Before going back to the Youth Hostel for the last night in Sapporo we took a look at a roof mounted ferris wheel.