Many years ago, I used to ski. Not very well, but adequately enough that the expense of getting to and staying at places where you can ski was worth it. Okemo, Lake George, Steamboat Springs, Park City, we went on some great trips back in the day. Looking back, though, it's clear that I always loved the things that come with the sport of skiing more than the sport itself: the incredible mountaintop views; soaking in the hot tub at night; that moment of raw euphoria when you release your barking dogs from those damned ski boots, the Turkish prisons of footwear.
This is all to say that I don't really think much about skiing or where to go skiing anymore. And it never really crossed my mind that people ski in Japan. Guess what; they do.
As I learned over the next couple of days, if you want to ski in Japan, you want to stay on Hokkaido, the country's northernmost island, where there are quite a few ski resorts. We visited two of them, because – of course – they include amusement parks that are open during those warm months outside of winter (or, wait, I'm sorry, Frozen®, that's the new name for winter, right? Isn't a bill working its way through Congress?)
The city that hosts Hokkaido Greenland is Iwamizawa, a detail I share because that name is very high on the "Fun To Say Out Loud" scale. The park may not be packed with fantastic credits, but it's in a beautiful location and has one snazzy little dark attraction. And pedal boats.
After the big, modern, Occidental trappings of Nagashima Spaland, it felt good to get back to a park that was more cozy and Japanese. We wouldn't be here a full day, but you don't really need a full day to cover all the bases at Greenland.
The bug band out front was laying down a sweet jam. I'm not sure if "dancing" was what I was going for with this pose. Or am I throwing a punch? It's a mystery.
What is invisible and smells like carrots? Bunny farts.
I get the feeling Hokkaido Greenland is never overrun with crowds, but it was really quiet for our visit, which was great. This is the main hub just beyond the entrance gates.
The park seems just about evenly split between attractions for little kids and attractions for everyone else. I'm still not quite sure for which demo these furry AT-ATs are designed. Neil seems quite happy astride this panda. I believe he named it "Master Po," but I could be mistaken.