Ok, anyway, here is a brief update on February in Hokkaido. It's basically REALLY COLD! Yet, somehow, this is the month full of exciting things to do, starting tonight! Tonight I will travel to Sapporo for the Snow Festival! Yay! But, I will probably only be able to see the snow festival after dark. This is because I am going on a guided snowshoeing trek all day tomorrow! I still find it a little weird, myself. I have spent a small fortune on apparel designed to keep you from perishing in the cold. Now I am just trying to find that fine line between not perishing in the cold and not perishing from heat exhaustion. I think I need to take a pack mule along for the journey.
Currently, I am testing two pairs of ridiculously expensive socks to see which pair is warmer. I'm going to have to test each sock on the other foot next, because I just realized that one foot is much closer to the heater. Whoops.
I also have a fully loaded pair of snowboarding pants, whatever that means. I think it means that some joker was sitting around, looking at a surplus of tracksuit pants and decided to put some extra pockets and a cool label on and charge a bazillion dollars for the finished product. Oh, well. They look pretty goofy as well! I think they are designed for a man, and I was not designed like a man. Well, I suppose the main point is to stay warm and dry. Any laughs I provide for my fellow snowshoe trekkers will just be a bonus!
I did test out my new high tech pants last night by going out for a sweet ride behind the 100 yen store on my grocery sled! It was really fun, even though I went neither fast nor far. I kept plowing into the snowdrift at the side of the road. Sadly, I did not take pictures as I had to wait for the 100 yen store to close in order to not get run over by innocent patrons of said store!
So, anyway, the next weekend after the Snow Festival is another snow festival, this time in my very own wittle city! I am pretty excited, even though it is beginning to look like I may only be able to attend one day of it.
Then, we have Valentine's Day. Normally, I don't really care about Valentine's Day, but apparently things are a little different in Japan. There is apparently some custom - and as usual, it's impossible to get the definitive word on it - where women have to give chocolates to all the men they know. There is even a special word for the chocolate you give to male acquaintances - giri-choko. The definition is obligation chocolate. !!!!!!!!! Help, help, wakarimasen!!!! Apparently, men have to return the favor on White Day, which begs the question...why not leave off the whole thing and buy yourself whatever you like!
This Valentine's Day custom just feels really weird when coming from my cultural context where you give Valentine's Day presents only to those who are close to you (unless you are in 1st grade, and they have probably banned candy by now! :-).
The weekend after I survive the confusion of Valentine's Day in a new cultural context, I get to go to a town in central Hokkaido for the HAJET Winter Meeting. This is just a time for all the JETs (and non-JETs too, I guess) to get together and have a meeting during the winter. I am looking forward to it, though. I couldn't go to the fall meeting, because it was too far away, but this meeting is a measly 5 hours away, so I am totally going!
Then, the weekend after that is the Japan Cup, the annual dogsledding races hosted by the city of Wakkanai. I am also very excited about this, even though I may need my own dogsled to get there.
The weekend after that is March! So, it will be a busy February, but I think a very exciting February! Yay!