I recently went back to Hokkaido for the second time. I have experienced it during the full force of winter, at the beginning of February, and now I have seen it as it is just beginning to warm up and thaw out, at the beginning of May. Two completely different experiences.
I also enjoyed some German sausage and beer at a cool pub in Otaru, a city near to Sapporo. The two best parts of the trip didn’t happen directly at the festival though, the first was seeing the famous penguin walk at the Asahiyama Zoo. The zoo itself is a frozen tundra at this time of year with less than ideal conditions for the animals (such is the case for most zoos in Japan), however the penguins seemed perfectly OK in the snow and every few hours they do a march around part of the zoo. It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen!! It is a ways out from festival, but well worth it!
The other highlight of the trip was going on a drive to a smaller snow festival, and stopping at the lake to see this stunning volcano. It was a relaxing and breathtaking way to end the weekend.
Japan is so good at festivals! Spring/Summer is definitely a good time to visit! Oh and I also saw the new X-men there and fulfilled my desire to drink a caramel macchiato from Starbs. Tottori is so inaka that I sometimes forget that almost every other prefecture has Starbucks and movie theaters with English films!