Monday, March 5, 2012

Sapporo Snow Festival

I don't feel that this post will adequately sum up the entire Snow Festival, but I will do my best!

Sapporo is a city on the northern island of Japan, Hokkaido. Every year they have a huge snow and ice festival in the city. We thought about going last year, but it wasn't long after we got here that the trip was happening, so we waited until this year. We spent 3 days there and got to see quite a few things. We took 721 photos total, so this post will only be a snapshot of those sites.

After our flight up to Hokkaido, we stopped for lunch at the Sapporo Beer Garden.

It was cold!

The first place we went to was the Odori Park site where the snow sculptures were. Here are a few of our favorites. Keep in mind, these are made entirely out of snow!

I will continue this in more posts to come...

D' Back Dining Out

Our squadron held a Dining Out back in January at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. A.J. and I and all of our D' Back friends made the trek up to Tokyo on Friday evening and got dressed up for our event. The evening was a lot of fun, full of the normal Dining Out shenanigans and a good excuse to get dressed up. (And see my husband in a uniform!)

We also took our first trip out to Roppongi, which is the "party" district of Tokyo.

The next day was spent wandering around Shibuya, showing A.J. the statue of Hachiko and Shibuya crossing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival

Over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend we took one of our first big adventures together in Japan. We packed up our little white Cube and drove 4 hours north to Nagano prefecture for the fire festival that was taking place that weekend. (Prefectures are like the states of Japan). The drive up was beautiful and it was our first opportunity to use our new camera!

We experienced quite a bit of snow while we were there. When we got there, it had snowed about a foot the night before, so they were still doing clean up.

Then it snowed another foot overnight the first night that we were there. Here is the snow out our window on day one and day two.

We spent the weekend in a VERY traditional Japanese lodge, including sleeping on the floor and eating (well, not really eating, more like "being offered") raw fish for breakfast.

While we were there, I took my first stab at skiing, which went very badly and we met up with some friends that I work with.

The little village of Nozawa is neat. We walked the whole thing in about 2 hours and really enjoyed it.

The actual fire festival took place on Sunday and was a long and interesting experience. Over the weekend, the people in town build a large structure to burn. When the festival starts, the 45 year old men in the village climb on top of the structure while the 23 year old men attack it from the bottom and try to light it on fire. This whole thing took about 2 hours to go through with no success on the 23 year old's part. Eventually, they lit the structure and let it burn to the ground. We did not stay for the whole burning part, but it was definitely worth being there!

We had a blast while we were there and I am really glad that we went up. Enjoy the pics! Here are a few more scenery shots...

We're still here...

Once again I find myself WAY behind on the blog posts. We have done quite a few things since the last post and I am excited to share it all with you! Looking back, my last post was in November, which was a story that A.J. shared from the boat. Since then many things have happened in the life of the Japan Clay's:

1. A.J. got off the boat shortly after that last post and was home for 5 days before he left for California and FAC-A school.

2. I saw him a bit earlier than planned after that because, unfortunately, A.J.'s grandfather passed away at the end of November. So, A.J. came in from California and I flew in from Japan and we supported our family through a tough time.

3. 2 weeks after that I headed home again for Christmas vacation. A.J. overlapped with me for about a week while we were home and although we were busy, it was nice to be home with family, friends and especially each other!

4. A.J. finally returned to Japan in January, and after 8 months, it was VERY nice to have him home for longer than 2 weeks.

So, there you are, re-capped on our happenings since November. Keep looking through the blog for the individual posts on our recent fun adventures!