Sapporo Travel Diary 2017: Lifting off to the Okurayama Ski Jump Viewing Lounge

Okurayama 1 - Sapporo Travel Diary 2017: Lifting off to the Okurayama Ski Jump Viewing Lounge

I suppose the most well-known detail about the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium is the fact that it held the 90-meter ski jump competition during Asia’s first-ever Winter Olympics in 1972. Historic as that may be, it was not my greatest takeaway from our visit here.

I had very little idea of what to expect from this excursion because I didn’t do any research about the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium beforehand, so imagine my surprise when this turned into one of my favourite locations for reasons completely unrelated to ski jumping!

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You head inside through that long tube housing an escalator. Once you get to the top it’s easy to spot the Ski Jump ramp, looking like a great white slide. The snow lining the ramp is utterly pristine and incredibly smooth. The first thing that went through my mind: Wait, do people “jump” from the top of that thing down to the bottom? That’s crazy!

To be entirely honest, I have only a few ideas about winter sports– understandably so since I come from a tropical country. Of course I know ice skating, hockey, and skiing, but I had no idea what ski jumping was. This was in fact my first time ever in a ski jumping stadium. Naturally I went on YouTube to see how you do the whole ski jumping thing, and WHOA MAMA. I don’t ever want to do it haha!

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Basically the ski jumpers slide down that first thin slope on the very top to gain some speed and maybe get a feel of the wind. Once they arrive at that “launching platform” with the logo of the Olympics on it, they get quite literally launched into the air! I can see how many people would find this sport exhilarating. For seconds that seem like an eternity, you don’t feel the motion of “jumping” so much as you really are just suspended in the air.

Like flying.

And the amazing part is when the ski jumpers land– so gracefully like gymnasts on their feet!

Sights, Sounds, and Smells at the 68th Sapporo Snow Festival at Odori Park

Sapporo Snow Festival Me - Sights, Sounds, and Smells at the 68th Sapporo Snow Festival at Odori Park

It’s not difficult to get a measure of just how big the Sapporo Snow Festival is, even though I only got to visit one site. What I saw in Odori Park was enough of a confirmation that this festival was one of the biggest celebrations of the winter season in Japan. Apart from that, to me this was also a celebration of craftsmanship and creativity.

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I’ve always considered the Japanese a very creative lot not just because they’re good with the anime and the console games. It’s because they seem to consider many things as a form of art, and thus give the kind of care and respect an artist would to their craft.

Their attention to detail is pretty impressive. They never do anything half-baked, even if it’s something as simple as wrapping your take out to-go. I suppose some people would call it work ethic, but I call it showing a lot of heart for the work you do.

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The Sapporo Snow Festival is a great exhibition of how the Japanese showcase their heart in their work. It’s 12 blocks’ worth of impressively built, pristine white sculptures in all shapes and sizes that make you feel like you’re in a fantasy world of snow. This 2017, the Snow Festival ran from February 6 to 12, but we were here on February 5th– a day before the official opening of the Festival.

When we visited under the supervision of the Sapporo City Tourism Office, we started our tour at the 9-chome area. We were told that many of the ice sculptures here featured copyrighted material, so I decided not to take any Pikachu and Star Wars pics. But… I couldn’t resist snapping this one:

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This is like taking Western-Asian fusion to a whole different level: US President Trump was carved holding a pen and an apple! This wasn’t the only nod to that viral PPAP song thingy by Japanese comedian PIKATORO, but it was the most attention-grabbing one. It was so hard to miss this sculpture even from far away, and regardless of how you feel about this man, you have to admit the resemblance is staggering! They got the mouth perfectly shaped! 😆

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