So continuing about my week-long trip in Hokkaido, where I visited and , I also went to Asahikawa (旭川). By train, Asahikawa is just over an hour away from Sapporo, making it a nice place to visit on a day trip. Like the rest of Hokkaido and probably the rest of Northern-ish Japan, there are snow and ice sculptures all around the central part of the city. The city itself is another big city, similar to Sapporo (actually it’s the 2nd largest city in Hokkaido), and I thought the city itself was pretty standard; nothing really stood out. However, visitors that come are not there for the city itself, but mainly for the Asahiyama Zoo.
I am a sucker for zoos (I like animals), and eventually I would like to make my way to do a real safari, or ride an elephant through the indian jungles; I like seeing animals in their natural habitat and are free to roam around as they please. And until I can make my way to those regions in the world, I have to settle with zoos. And so, what made this particular zoo more interesting than the other zoos I’ve been to (not too many actually) was the part that throughout the day, the zoo keepers would take out the lot of emperor penguins for a walk through the entire zoo! I’m not sure how it’s done during the summer, but during the winter, there would be a nicely packed snow path which lays out the path that the penguins will walk on for their tour of the zoo; here is a video of what I tried to explain. That alone made my trip to the zoo.
But for those who are not interested in a zoo (who wouldn’t be?!) Asahikawa is also known for their particular ramen. Ramen is a staple Japanese noodle soup dish that can be found just about everywhere in the country. Each province, or district, slightly modifies the dish with their own unique broth, meat, and noodles. The Asahikawa is particularly renown (some say throughout Japan) for its Shoyu ramen (broth + soy sauce). There are dozens of stores that pepper the city that claim to have the best ramen than the other, but my taste buds are not as refined to differentiate them. It is still a nice hot meal during winter though.
PENGUIN TUNNEL – It provides a beautiful view of penguins swimming around under water.
SNOW KING – I have always wondered what tropical region animals think of snow when they first see it. Especially in Hokkaido, it can be a temperature differential of up to 60 degrees!
ICE TOWER – One of the many intricately designed ice sculptures in town. During the night, they would be beautifully lit with coloured lamps.
DRAGONBALL Z- A large snow sculpture of the protagonist Goku of one of the most internationally known animes, Dragon Ball Z
LITTLE ARMY – A common sight during winter, where an unused alley or just and area is filled with hundreds of these mini snow men with different facial expressions.