Well, this weekend is a three-day weekend, in which National Foundation Day is observed. According to https://study.gaijinpot.com/lesson/holidays/national-foundation-day/, this holiday “mark[s] the foundation of Japan and the accession of Emperor Jimmu.” All I know is that it gave me an extra day off, which I am really grateful for!
Most of my teammates took this opportunity to fly up to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, to attend the Sapporo Snow Festival. I thought about it, but it wasn’t something I cared about enough to spend the money on. Instead, I and the one other teacher who had decided not to go to Hokkaido took a little day trip to a place called Ouchijuku. It’s a traditional village from the Edo period, and they were having their own snow festival. It turned out to be a fun experience, although it took quite awhile to get there!
Here’s a little picture/video tour of our trip:
I have my geography mixed up a little in the video – apparently the village is located in Shimogo Town, not Yunokami Onsen (that’s the train station), and the video footage is of the entrance to the village.
The village consists of a street lined with traditional thatched houses.
Different snow sculptures, including lamps, lined the street:
There were also beautiful colored balls of ice…
…and snow houses that you could get inside!
Most of the houses served as souvenir shops and/or restaurants. One of the shops specialized in fabric ornaments, like these flowers:
My friend and I were super hungry upon arriving at the village, so we soon decided to have some lunch. Most of the restaurants sold soba and udon (Japanese noodles), so we rather randomly chose one of the shops, and ordered soba with mountain vegetables. It also came with a side of daikon pickles and some sort of fern dish.
This was the restaurant we ate at. It had the cutest old lady sitting outside!
After lunch was when the festivities started, and when we did a little hiking to get some photos of the village from a higher perspective. But that’s a story for next week… 🙂