[Japan 2006] Otaru

October 15, 2006 | 2006-japan, photo, trip |

February 14, 2006

Woohooooo~~~~~ YAY! Believe it of not, this is the last day of this travelogue (that has been dragging on for 8 months XDD)! And Valentine’s day too! LOL It was snowing and it was raining, don’t forget your umbrella and some extra clothes before you hop in!

warning: a lot of snow (of course, it’s snow festival season after all XDD), and a huge amount of pictures ahead. Sorry for the loading time again! ^^”

Our day started off quite late since the highlight of the day was during the night in Otaru, so we took it lazy easy, started packing a little bit and then went out for an early lunch. Dear LORD! There were TONS of people at the mall, especially COUPLES (holding hands, I might add)! Oh, we’ve just realized, it’s Valentine’s day LOL, but hey, didn’t these people have to work or study during the day? ^__~Anyway, we went to the okonomiyaki restaurant that we walked by the other day, my friend called to make a reservation in advance so we got the table right away. Okonomiyaki is Japanese pizza/pancake that you can choose whatever topping you want, and then play with it! XDD Four of us ordered 3 pieces to share. On the table, there’s an instruction card of how to prepare each kind of okonomiyaki, so our culinary class began….

We started with an easy one, just mixed everything together, poured the ingredients on the hot plate on the table, waited for a few minutes, flipped it over, waited a little longer, then decorated it with whatever they had on the table XD

The next was much more fun. According to the menu, it’s called ‘Hiroshima Bomb’. Starting by grilling the meat separately while pouring some flour mixture on the hot plate/pan, then we put some vegetable on top of the flour and moved the all the meat on top of it. At the same time, start putting the soba noodles on the grill surface and stir it occasionally. Flipping this huge thing over and moving it on top of the noodles wasn’t quite easy, but moving the entire thing on top of some egg that we poured on the plate was even more challenging, as you can see, some of the stuffing wasn’t cooperated very well XD. After a few minutes, we flipped it over again, decorated while waiting for it to be fully cooked, then divided it into 4 giant pieces! Yummy!! LOL

I believe you can tell from the next picture that these pizzas tasted very good. *blushes* XDD By the way, I remember that someone has a very yummy family recipe for okonomiyaki. A trip to Canada, anyone? ^__~

One thing to keep in mind about okonomiyaki place, the smell will stick with your clothes almost forever! XDD Seriously, I sent my coat to dry cleaning place twice after I came back and I still can smell the smoke from that place. It was hilarious when we got on the JR train to Otaru, it was like everyone knew where exactly we went for lunch XD

About 45 minutes later, we arrived at Otaru station, the main focus of this day was Otaru Yuki akari no michi or Snow Light Path, which was the light up in the evening, along the Otaru Canal and other sites around the city. Having a couple of hours to kill before dark, we walked around to survey the famous spots for photoshoots and postcards (aka A MUST shot) to make sure that we would come back to take a picture here at night. We met a lot of professional photographers there, they’re all carrying a yard-long zoom lens with giant tripods ^^

These flower-in-the-ice lanterns/candle holders could be found everywhere on the streets. Pretty ne? ^^

We walked around for a little bit, seeing some volunteers fix some lanterns before it started raining, so we decided to go to Otaru Canalside Glass Factory to hide from the wind and the rain. City of Otaru is quite famous for its glassware. *__* These sparkling colorful glasses were soooooo pretty.

I think owl is a signature of Ainu people, since they’re everywhere in Hokkaido, from ice sculptures, snow sculptures, postcards, magnets, keychains, toys, to these cute little glass stir sticks.

After buying some souvenirs and postcards, we walked to another part of this factory, where we could build our own souvenirs, like music box, key chain, earrings, etc etc. This one was the sample of the music box, cute ne~ ^__^ One of my friends decided to make one for her BF, so we spent about 2 hours here, which was good since it was raining pretty hard outside, and it also gave me some time to write 20 postcards. XD Too bad, they didn’t allow us to take photos inside the working area. *pouts* Basically, they let you choose the music, the stand, the tiny glass figurines, the sand, the everything LOL Then after you finished with your music box, the staff would put it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.

After we’re done with the music box, we went to another gift shop inside the same building. Surprisingly enough, they carried the same stuff as the shop on the 2nd floor, but selling at 2x-3x the price XD So, don’t be lazy, climb up the stairs and you can save some money! LOL

Alright, time to get outside and enjoy the night! The rain almost stopped so we went out for a quick dinner at a fast food place, then it’s the shutterbug time! XD We had to be really careful though, since the street (or snow) was extremely slippery after the rain. The light up was sooooooooo beautiful BUT this kind of lighting made it so darn hard to focus my camera, as you can see, most of these pictures are blurry. bleh! -___-”

I always love taking pictures of candles. Of course, it’s easier to focus in this low lighting environment XD but I really do like capturing the flame, I think it’s pretty ^^

Tada! The famous spot# 1 XDD

It’s a Valentine’s day for Mr. and Mrs. Snow too! ^^

*giggles* My infamous “Fragile” shot.

And here it is, the famous spot# 2! If you look at a postcard from Otaru during this season, I bet you’ll see either spot# 1 or #2. It’s in the magazines/pamphlets/posters all over the places. Definitely Otaru’s signature shot! LOL

The festival staff gave everyone a paper cup to write down something and then put the candle inside. I think we’re supposed to write down our wishes, but being a gang of silly girls, here’s what our cups said:

everyday is the day full of love and happiness (of course, she just made a music box for her BF LOL)

Otaru in my dream is not this wet, but this is still pretty ne~

♥ ♥ cold, but pretty ♥ ♥

glad to be here with you all

Now can you guess which one is mine? XDD

I totally love the tourists of this town, they stopped and waited for me to take the shot at the other end of the tunnel! How nice of them! *is really appreciated*

It was cold and rainy day, but we were pretty immune to it already, so I didn’t complain whine as much as I normally did XD Otaru is a very lovely town, people are very friendly, I really wish I would have a chance to go back here during Spring for the sakura season in the future. ^^ And oh, 10 extra points to Otaru for having an English pamphlet that’s actually in English! LOL

After a few hours of ohhhh ahhhhh beautiful and 400 photos later, we decided to go back to Sapporo to visit two other Thai girls who also went to school there. We’re back at Sapporo station around 10pm, my friend told us that these two sisters lived only a few blocks away. Duh, shouldn’t trust the Japanese (or people who stayed in Japan long enough) XD Her “FEW” blocks turned out to be a 30 minutes walk on the icy snow! again! We never learned!! oh, and I lost my favorite beanie hat somewhere, probably on the train *sniffs*

Anyhow, a supposedly short visit turned into a 3 hours of laughters. These two girls were cracked, they’re way beyond hilarious XDD We finally called a cab and got back to my friend’s mansion around 2:30am ^^” I threw everything into my luggage, transferred all pictures to my computer, was about to write everyone a cd but soon realized that it’s about 2.5GB worth of photos from my camera LOL, so I told them I would send each of them a DVD after I got home instead ^^”

I decided to stay up all night since we’ll have to leave at 5:30am to catch a train to the airport then fly back to Narita. Everything went smoothly, we said goodbye at the New Chitose airport, it was sad, but we promised to meet each other again in 2007, this time will be no snow LOL. I actually passed out as soon as I got on the plane, I didn’t even realize when it took off and the next thing I know, I was back in Tokyo. ^^; I said goodbye to my two friends there since I had to drag my luggage to hop on a bus to another terminal, find some food for my growling tummy, then wait for my flight time. And as you can tell, I got back home safe and sound ^__~

end notes:

So, that’s pretty much it for my first trip to Japan. I sure had a lot of fun, even though it’s the first time the four of us met in real live, we got along really well, crazy minds think alike, eh? LOL This made everything flow nicely. Biggest THANKS goes to my friend who lives in Japan. She’s really the best! Basically, she organized everything for us. Without her, this trip wouldn’t be all packed with fun actions like this. ^___^ I’m really looking forward to my next trip to Japan with this gang, this time we’ll go explore the southern part of Japan. I bet my friend will come up with a perfect plan again, no doubt! XD

*throws confetti* DONE!! YAY!! IT’S DONE!!! *laughs hysterically while doing conga dances* XD

I couldn’t believe that I’d actually manage to finish this travelogue before my trip to Thailand next week. LOL

Thank you, guys, for your patience and for being with me throughout this trip. Without your whips supports and comments, I would’ve dropped this thing and run off to hide somewhere already XDD I hope you do enjoy these pictures and some silly stories from me and my friends.

Ja ne~


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