Monday, February 26, 2024

Hokkaido Snow Festivals 2024 - Asahikawa

Day 2 of our Hokkaido snow festival trip was spent in Asahikawa. This day's itinerary required an early train and I bought the tickets about a month in advance from the JR Yokohama station reserved seat machines to make sure we would all be comfortable on the long journey. 

We used the underground passage to get to Sapporo station and had some time to look around and get some breakfast before boarding the 0800 train. 

We arrived at Asahikawa station and then got on a bus to head into town. First order of business was our workshop reservation at Asahikawa Design Center!

I made the reservation for 8 people by phone about 5 weeks prior to our visit. This does seem like a newer concept thing for ADC and it's possible to walk in as well. There's several different items to pick from including a coaster, spoon, small tray, clock and stool. We each made our selections and paid first before getting started. 

ADC's Hayashi-san helped interpret to English for us while the master craftsmen demonstrated the steps based on which piece we picked. 

This was a very hands on experience, but we did mostly just use sanding paper and then oiled the piece based on what it was (walnut for the spoons and linseed oil for the trays).

The clock and the stool take a little extra time (60 min vs 40 min for the rest) and there's a lot more to do. Since we were still planning to be out for the rest of the day, we opted to ship my in-laws' pieces back to our house which they could collect from us at a later date. 

They also let us try out this traditional Japanese wood planer. One that they had was older than my parents!

After the workshop, we continued to look through the gallery. There's a lot of different interior pieces from furniture to accessories that you can buy. The second floor is also a little bit like a museum (for display or informational purposes only). 
Thank you to the ADC (Lab) team for making us feel welcome and helping us each create a unique memento from this trip!

The Asahikawa Ramen Village is about a 5 minute drive away, but since we were using public transportation (and there was 8 of us), we had planned to eat at the restaurant right next door to Asahikawa Design Center called Palemta which seemed like a (Taiwanese) dim sum restaurant. 

From there, we caught two taxis to Tokiawa Park where the Asahikawa Winter Festival is held. One of the first things we were greeted with was this giant slide (about 100m)! There were 4 volunteers from our group to experience it.
The line was pretty hefty but it seemed like it was running about as efficiently as it could while still being safe!

Once we were all reunited, we continued through the festival displays. Lots of different snow sculptures, many Monster Hunter themed and featuring the slime!..which my husband had to tell me because I did not recognize it (nor did anyone else is our party) lol. 

Tried some of the items from the food stalls! But everything got cold so quickly haha. 

The most impressive piece at this festival was the snow sculpture for the stage backdrop. It was MASSIVE and included more Monster Hunter themes and a large dragon!
We waited in line to take this photo with the festival mascots and almost missed the free shuttle bus to leave.

Back at Asahikawa station, we did a little bit of shopping at the information center and then bought our reserved tickets back to Sapporo. We had about an hour to check out more in this area!

Just across from Asahikawa station, there were SO many different and incredibly detailed ice sculptures. Most of these were in quite good shape (not too melted) and the changing color lights at night really helped them come to life as so many had dynamic poses. 

The sidewalks were clear of ice and and snow when we visited which was really convenient for walking. The downside for this area is that the sculptures were all spread out along this street and would require crossing intersections many times and often having to wait for a traffic light to change. Those streets weren't clear of ice/snow and were a little slipperier. 
As with the other sections, these photos are just a SMALL selection of what was on display and best experienced in person, especially at night!

Following our reserved seat tickets, we boarded the train headed back and were able to relax. 

We didn't end up having dinner in Asahikawa (no one was hungry after having the festival snacks), so my husband and I went to check out the nearby Ramen Santouka which was right next to our hotel. 

We had a fun full day in Asahikawa! This was my first visit to this area (and just my third time visiting Hokkaido) and I can tell that it has a lot of charm. We didn't get to experience everything it has to offer since we were doing snow/winter festival activities, but I've heard good things about the Zoo as well!
Like in Sapporo, definitely consider timing your trip to include time during sun up and sun down so you can experience the light up effects (just be prepared for the cold!)