Day 5 (Jan. 19/20) – Ice, Ice Baby

For some reason, just being on Hokkaido feels neat – I’ve never been this far north in Japan and it’s also my first time off the main island. Compared to the rest of Japan, they get real winter up here and they try to make the most of it.

Snowmen outside the Asahikawa train station.

The plan today was to check out the Hokkaido Ice Pavilion. From the little research I’d done, it looked like a kind of ice hotel. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I got to the Pavilion it looked like it was more meant for kids than adults – a snow play area with slides and tobogganing with lots of Frozen posters. They advertise that it’s -20C inside the Pavilion and they even hand you a wet towel to twirl around after you get inside to see how quickly it freezes. I get it lady, it’s cold inside.

Wonder if Disney licensing knows about this…

And the interior isn’t much. A bunch of man-made ice tunnels with some coloured lights and a few rooms with ice sculptures. One other gimmick they had was a room where, if you hit the button, it’ll drop down to -41C. Basically, a bunch of fans turn on and blows cold air at you for ten seconds.

Lesson learned, do better research!

The worst part was that, by the time I got out of there, their restaurant had closed and the town is so small that there wasn’t anything open, not even a convenience store. Aside for some snacks from the gift shop, I had to get back to Asahikawa to get any real food, about an hour’s travel time. On the plus side, I did have my first hit of sushi since arriving in Japan.

In Japan, even shopping mall sushi is amazing

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