I’ve had a thing for Japan since long. The cultural attachment seems close to where I come from, at the same time, it is relatively abnormal. From a business student’s perspective, the culture of Japan is all about, high context, hierarchy, or drinking party that often organized after work. However, my length of stay in Japan this time did not allow me to mitigate these stereotypes. Instead, my positive bias toward Japan was maintained or even expanded during the trip.
I assumed that most people would have a piece of imagination for Japan, for me, my piece is a stunning, tranquil, secludedly hidden town surrounded by mountains and lake. Perhaps it’s the impression from an animation I watched before, which makes me hard to deny a visit to Lake Shikotsu, which located in Chitose, Hokkaido.
Lake Shikotsu can be easily transferred from New Chitose Airport by bus. It is famous for its ONSEN (Japanese hot spring), although it’s not the most popular spot in Hokkaido(great great news to me). The lake amid several Ryokan(Japanese style hotel) which provided bathing facilities and traditional dinning, more importantly, the living room experience:
I took a walk after settling in. Luckily, ice festival was held during my visit. While ice sculptures, slides and neon lights were not surprising, I bumped into something more fascinating, probably they were Japan-only：
Ice aquarium, I wondered if they were alive at that point.
And an ice-built Shinto Shrine! That really wowed me a bit.
Instead of tossing the coin into the box, most of us chose for putting them on the wall for fortune. By the way, using 5 Yen Coin is commonly believed to be the luckiest implication in the donation to Shrine.
The best way for warming up myself from the ice festival is to soak into the in-room bath in my balcony after dinner. I did not get to see the public ONSEN because I’ve got tattooed. Nonetheless, I exactly enjoyed the privacy and comfort it offered. Plus, before entering the bath, sitting on a stool when taking the shower is a bliss, trust me.
One of the fun things to do while staying in Ryokan is to wear Yukata, a casual form of Kimono, wandering around for a touch of cultural immersion. I considered it as an implicit dressing code cause you will find yourself being awkwardly distinctive from the norm for not wearing it, especially during the breakfast period.
I’m usually not a morning person, but I had my breakfast rapidly so as to sightsee the town under the sunlight before departure. Surely the morning tour did not disappoint me:
I just love everything that is snow-capped. It’s been six years since the very last time I saw snow. The excitement was still there.
I spent seven days traveling Hokkaido in the winter, and the day in Lake Shikotsu became the most memorable one. The reason is just simple: It made my Japanese fantasy turn real.