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It's freezing, it's snowing - it is the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Let's go and check it out.
Sapporo has the second highest snowfall of any city on the planet,
and every year, over two million people descend upon the city to experience its legendary snow festival.
So this year, I'm dropping by for 48 hours to eat, drink and wander my way through the city.
But, I'm not going alone.
Joining us on our trip are fellow vloggers and first-time visitors to the festival, Sharla and Chiaki,
the ever-cheeky Pete Donaldson from the Abroad in Japan Podcast,
and of course, no adventure would be complete without Japan's most eccentric young man.
Hopefully, by the end of our journey, you'll have some extra ideas for things to do the next time you're in town.
And our trip starts just one day before the festival officially opens,
and a few hours before Natsuki arrives.
CB: How do you feel?
It's amazing! My first time.
CB: In the snow.
It's a miracle.
CB: It's a miracle!
I love snowing.
I'll remember it forever. Thank you~
CB: So profound...
CB: Heh.
Because Chiaki is from Okinawa where snow's not yet been invented, she's pretty impressed by it.
How do you feel about the snow? - It's amazing!
And I can't see in front... And then my hair's starting to get frosty!
S: Your eyelashes are frozen! C: My eyelashes!
CB: Chiaki the Snowman. C: It's my first experience.
I'm so excited!
- I'm gonna try and put my hood up. It's gonna be a nightmare...
Ohhh it's all gone down my neck!!
Ooohh, that's cold... That is unwelcome...
CB: People come from all around the world to take photos of pigeons in Sapporo.
--Listen, guys. Tomorrow we got a big snow festival to get involved with.
I don't want to see any of you stealing any chips from anybody's hands.
We're gonna have a good, clean snow festival, alright?
So everybody stay out of trouble, okay?
CB: Pigeon?
P: Pigeon.
--Pigeon! CB: Pigeon.
CB: Ohh, why?
Why? Ah, singing!
CB: Ah, singing? -- Yeah.
CB: Ah!
Can I sing?
CB: Yes. -- Yosh.
[They sing 'Just The Way You Are - Bruno Mars']
CB: Very nice, very nice.
S: Very good!
Thank you, thank you.
[Endless gratitude]
Just some singers singing around the gaff.
They thought you were controlling the pigeons a second ago.
When you were talking to them they were like 'ehh wow!?'.
Pigeon man!
Prawn soup.
CB: Oh good lord, no...
Let's get rid of some of this shrapnel...
You've learned well from the videos. You've learned well.
It's not very nice...
Is it Japanese? --CB: Do you want to try some?
CB: Give some to Chiaki.
CB: Good?
C: Not really... CB: Not good.
There goes your sponsorship deal with 'Go:Good Soup'
Peter, you can share...
CB: Don't waste the awesome camera - the Super 8 camera...
Pete's got a Canon Super 8 camcorder from like the 1970s or 80s.
And it only has three minutes of footage time.
I'm being a disgusting hipster.
You think you're better than me? With your GoPro?
CB: To be fair, I'd go and rather have this!
The girls are doing 'purikura', the thing where you take photos and ruin the photos with drawings.
Do you wanna see what fun looks like? Let's go and have a look.
CB: How'd it come out?
C: Like this!
CB: Oh my lord...
C: They cut it... S: Yeah.
I'm just gonna use this - I'm gonna pay 200 yen and look through this...
Wow! Cool!
CB: So on the telescope, it's just a big TV. --P: It's just a big TV.
Look, you can zoom out and zoom in.
What's going on in this...
What's going on in this window?
CB: So this is the mascot of Sapporo Tower.
CB: What's he called, Pete?
Terebi..... dad.
Television Dad.
CB: Terebitou-san.
P: Terebitou-san! CB: TV dad.
P: TV dad.
In many ways, my television in my house was my dad.
[sad music] Uhh...
[Chris chuckles]
CB: It's all getting...
My dad wasn't really that invested in things, and...
television taught me right from wrong, and...
wrong from right, and...
I love you, Television Dad.
CB: Leaving Pete behind at Sapporo Tower to peek through his telescope and reflect on his Television Dad,
we head back to our hotel in Susukino night-life district to meet Natsuki,
who's just flown in from Yamagata.
CB: He's looking for you.
--Natsuki and I actually came here in 2017, right?
About three years ago.
Three years ago?
Three years ago.
There's such a different vibe in the winter though, y'know.
It looks so different - it looks like a whole different country.
Natsuki loves- Natsuki doesn't do cold weather.
Baking powder!
Baking powder. Like baking powder.
CB: 'Like baking powder'...
CB: 1950s restaurant.
Natsuki doesn't like the fact that I always go to the same restaurant,
a 1950s-styled era restaurant chain called Hanbei.
You can find it anywhere, to be honest.
I guess that's the point -
Natsuki doesn't like that fact that we're going somewhere that you can go to anywhere in Japan.
But I love it.
And I get what I want.
CB: What do you think?
CB: It's basically themed like the 50s and 60s - the Showa era.
CB: Lots of robots, posters, movies, trinkets, random flags...
We'll get some old ham. I think you can buy old ham in here...
CB: Yeah, cheers!
CB: Drinking time.
All: Cheers!
Another reason I always come to Hanbei is the menu is 'nomihoudai', which means all you can drink.
So, for what, 1,500 yen, you can drink as much as you can in two hours.
And for girls, it's 1,200 yen, because...
... girls can't drink as much, apparently...
I've ordered a whole glass of salad cream.
CB: Corned beef!
So we have here fried octopus balls,
the food of Osaka.
It's a delicious food.
Some wonderful viewers, who have now left the restaurant,
actually bought this for us as a present.
But, there's a catch.
One of the takoyaki in here is filled with karashi,
spicy, unpleasantly-tasting mustard.
And so, one of us at the table here will die.
And hopefully, it will not be me.
Me first. This one!
-- Okay. -- This!
3, 2... 1!
So badly timed!
[drum roll]
[cymbal crash]
I'm gonna go next and I'm gonna put a little England flag- Britain frag in mine, so...
Did you just say 'England frag'? --England frag!
'England frag'...
[drum roll] [Chris laughing]
[cymbal crash]
[Natsuki claps] Wohohoah! Happy birthday!
Ohh my god...!
Oh, it's like taking a shotgun to the face...
[cough wheeze]
Good night...
See you later...
Oohhh... Right up the nose!
CB: As Odori Park opens and travellers flood in from around the world,
before we barely got through the entrance,
Natsuki's attention is quickly grabbed by the decadent smoking area,
elaborately built from ice.
My house.
CB: Typical Natsuki.
Imagine if that was your job - you're an expert ice sculptor!
CB: It's actual... oh my god.
People queueing up just to see the smoking room which is made of ice. Brilliant.
CB: Bet you wish you took up smoking now.
Little bit. --CB: So you can come in here legitimately.
It's where all the cool kids are hanging out.
Eskiman. Eskimon.
Haha! Eskiman?
I like this guy - this guy looks like the colonel from, uh...
CB: 'Like the colonel...' -- Colonel Sanders.
Colonel Sanders from the KFC. --CB: He does a little bit.
CB: Like a post-modern Colonel Sanders.
CB: I love the way on this sculpture, they've got this massive, beautifully-crafted masterpiece,
and someone's just- it looks like they've hastily produced a slightly smaller...
P: There's been no upkeep on this one, I don't know what they've...
P: They've kinda let it go to rac and roon...
Somebody get a butterknife out.
I mean, it looks like a snake with hands - it's like an evil version of the mushroom creature from Mario.
I'm trying not to drink any alcohol this morning so I've got 'amazake'.
What is going on there?
Amazake's like the leftover bits from sake, which sounds awful but it tastes amazing.
A bit like rice pudding in a drink.
CB: What are you drinking?
CB: Blue beer?
Blue beer.
CB: Does it actually taste good?
Like a wine?
CB: Like wine...
Blue beer.
Ah, that's quite nice. It tastes like Belgian beer.
It's quite light - quite light. And blue!
CB: It's very rare.
CB: Wow, he's really...
The vlogger is being vlogged!
CB: As Natsuki sips on his decadent mulled wine, and gazes at the iced- ice palace...
What do you think?
CB: One word?
One word?
Not open.
CB: Brilliant.
Whilst most countries uses their soldiers for war,
Japan uses its soldiers to build ice sculptures.
That was modelled on a famous Polish palace called the 'Palace on the Isle',
to symbolise relations between Japan and Poland.
And apparently, it was built by 3,600 members of Japan's self-defence force.
And that explains how a palace of that magnitude gets built.
CB: What are you getting, Pete?
CB: Scallops.
CB: I've been a bit out of character today - I've not actually eaten anything.
I haven't even had any alcohol!
Natsuki's had like... Bacardi, he's had mulled wine - he's still drinking mulled wine.
Morning alcohol!
'Morning alcohol'.
Yeah, it is still morning. Maybe that's why I haven't started drinking anything yet.
CB: Although it's certainly not stop Natsuki!
I was once in a restaurant and asked for scallops and the chippy waiter said,
"it's actually 'scollops', sir".
Now who's winning!?
It's me. With my 'scollops'.
My main criticism of the snow festival so far is there's a lack of bins.
If you do come here to eat and drink and be merry, be aware of that - there are no bins.
Pete went off like 25 minutes ago to find a bin for his scallops and...
he's just gone. He's just disappeared.
You think they'd make a bin out of ice cubes.
Ice bin.
CB: Do you want to see an ice bin at Sapporo Snow Festival? -- That would be a good idea.
'Definitely'. Make an ice bin, if you're watching this - anybody from the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Ice bins for everyone.
Shall we take a selfie?
Shall we go and take a selfie?
CB: Natsuki's trying to drum up support for Natsuki: The Movie 2.
Natsuki: The Movie 2!
CB: Haha, don't encourage him.
So we've been walking around the snow festival for about an hour or two now.
We're all frozen solid, so we're going to a restaurant for lunch.
We've gotta try and find a decent restaurant.
And then we're gonna come back to the snow festival in the evening,
because apparently it's lit up at night and it looks better at night than it does during the day.
So, looking forward to that.
Ramen. What kind of ramen? --Ramen.
Even Natsuki's forgetting his own language.
Tankatsu? What's tankatsu?
Tonkatsu. --Tonkatsu.
CB: Yesss.
As a rule of thumb, most ramen chains are best avoided.
Like all the best ramen shops you find in Japan are just independently run ramen shops
from like small family owners and whatnot.
But Ippudo, which is a chain,
does just some of the best ramen you'll find in the country.
Good flavour.
Pork broth is number one.
Sapporo Snow Festival is really in its element at night when it's all lit up.
It's got projection mapping, the snow radiates in the light.
If you're wondering why we haven't filmed much this evening, we just did a live show.
For 40 minutes.
We walked through Odori Park here doing a live show.
Some of you guys might've watched it.
But during the live show, I kept complaining that I had no beer - I had no alcohol.
And then about five minutes later, a viewer of the live show actually came and found us
and handed me a beer!
Absolute legend from Germany!
It's the first time I've ever done a live show.
I might do it again. I quite enjoyed it.
I especially like the free beer.
Is the snow festival better during the day or the night?
Day or night...
CB: Why?
... show.
And they light up.
CB: Crystal show and light up.
What about you two?-- oh, nope...
It's like...
How do you put it...
CB: You see your breath?
CB: The snow's falling off the tree.
CB: So you can have fun with your breath...
What do you prefer, Sharla?
Yeah, night time.
CB: Night time. Why?
It's prettier.
CB: Prettier.
Night time.
CB: Night time.
C: Cute.
So, my money, I think this festival is nicer in the evening, with the lights.
The snow sculptures really come out at night with the lighting.
CB: Dangerous...
CB: No...
CB: Bad Natsuki.
CB: Bad Natsuki...
Disgusting behaviour.
Having spent the day out in the cold,
we decide to grab a drink in one of Sapporo's trendiest cocktail bars called 'Flair Bar',
nestled high over Susukino Crossing, with one of the best night views in the entire city.
CB: It's time for a traditional Japanese game...
of Pop-Up Pirate!
CB: Chiaki's broken it!
I'm sorry!!
CB: Where's the pirate?
CB: There he is.
If you were that-- CB: Who's the real pirate?
If you were that bothered about harming the pirate,
you'd just stab him in the head, wouldn't you, really.
You have access to his head.
You've broken Pop-Up Pirate.
CB: Natsuki.
CB: If anybody's gonna trigger it...
CB: Ohhh!!
CB: Shit!!
CB: Electric shocker game...
CB: Start!
CB: This is- this is an electric shock- --Relax!
[sounds of pain]
CB: Who's gonna get fucked?
No I didn't get anything...
Pete had four fingers in it, Natsuki had one and Natsuki got done.
Well guys, it's the last day of our trip in Sapporo,
and everybody's about to part ways - go their separate ways.
So I thought I'd just wrap up and let you know my thoughts on the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Yesterday, when I was walking through Odori Park doing the live show,
somebody said that they felt the snow festival was a little bit underwhelming.
For me, the Sapporo Snow Festival isn't just some ice sculptures.
It is the atmosphere - the general atmosphere of Sapporo in winter.
With all the snow, good people, good food, great atmosphere -
Sapporo Festival is about the city, not just the ice sculptures.
What do you think though, Natsuki?
How was the Sapporo Snow Festival?
'Fantastic good drunk'.
That's... heh.
That's a...
That's a better review than anything I could possibly say, so I'm gonna end it there.
But for now guys, as always, many thanks for watching,
and we'll see you next time to do it all over again.
Bye! Come back Sapporo.
CB: Bye Chiaki, bye Sharla, bye Pete!
CB: Bye Pete!
CB: Bye!
CB: Bye Natsuki...