January 13, 2005
Odori Koen, Sapporo
The Odori Koen is a 1.5km promenade and is 10 to 15 minutes’ walk from the Sapporo station. The main landmark is the TV tower, where visitors pay 700 yen for a panoramic view of Sapporo city. This is also the venue for its famed annual Sapporo Snow festival. Since we were too early for the festival, we were content to view the colourful illuminations that dotted the promenade. We were a little disappointed (a case of over-representation in advertising) and soon headed for the underground shopping mall, the Aurora town, and Pole town, where it was even more brightly lit and definitely warmer.
Kanemori Waterfront warehouses, Hakodate
The Hakodate Christmas fantasy was most probably designed by some bureaucratic committee out to squeeze every tourist dollar from their visitors. The venue was at the red-bricked Kanemori warehouses, a 5-minute walk from the streetcar station Jujigai. The huge warehouses have been converted into shops selling souvenirs, food, trinkets, handicrafts, etc. Visitors holding the 2-day pass have an additional 5 to 10% discount at certain outlets here.
The central attraction is an 18m-tall Christmas tree presented by Hakodate's sister city of Halifax, Canada. At precisely 1800 hours, the Christmas tree is lit up with much fanfare, accompanied by a modest fireworks-laser display, daily until the 25th of December. We viewed the light-up from Hakodate Mountain on our first night there and had the front-row "seats" on the following evening. It was a mesmerising sight.
Across and up the slope towards the Motomachi district are brilliantly lit trees lining the cobbled slopes. Look out too for the colorfully decorated street tram that circulates this district. It all certainly puts one in a shopping mood.
From journal Hokkaido, the JR Express Experience