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Dancing In the Park: Odori Koen, Sapporo

北海道札幌大通公園

sunny 18 °C

BGM: The Peace by Morning Musume

Japan is blessed with thousands of gorgeous parks, but Odori Park for me is the most enchanting. Whenever I felt homesick or bored, I would always come out here, buy a crunchy, juicy cob of salt-grilled corn from the motherly-sweet toukibi vendor, meander up and down the course from the romantic Archive Museum to the modern TV Tower, then plop down on a shady bench to meditate. Shiori and Masaru introduced me to this place on my third day in Sapporo and from then on, it became my second dorm of sorts, only a 5-minute walk away from my dorm.

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The name Odori means "big thoroughfare." But in Japanese, it also sounds like the words for "big dance" and whichever way you hear it, the park seems aptly named. Every June, Odori Park holds Hokkaido's largest dance festival called Yosakoi Soran Matsuri, where teams from all over Japan (and now all over the world), gather to compete with their own interpretations of the yosakoi soran bushi dance, with motions based on fishing movements such as pitching fish and hauling in heavy nets. It's overwhelmingly loud, crowded and vibrant. You can feel the energy of the dancing troops smacking you in the face with every snap of their wooden naruko clappers.

Dancing gracefully with the changing seasons, Odori Park puts on many splendid gowns throughout the year, of which I'm certain is the
secret to her appeal: bright pink cherry blossoms for spring, softly glowing beer lanterns and roses in summer, a stunning variety of autumn leaves and sparkling illumination complete with shimmering snow sculptures in winter (truly worth the risk of slipping and falling on your rear-end to go see).

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Even when it's not packed with festival revelers, Odori Park is entertaining yet intimate- full of places to duck out of the heat and find some downtime. The park spans the length of thirteen blocks (called chome /choh-meh/) -each block decorated with monuments, fountains, foliage and playground paraphernalia. Plus its central location and grid-based design make it a very convenient reference point from which to navigate the entire city. Of course we now live in the age of map apps so that's not an issue, anymore. But for old-timers who still need paper maps, Odori Park is a real godsend. Odori Park also has subway access and clean public toilets- so you don't have to dance in place too long when Nature calls.

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Posted by GenkiLee 22:34 Archived in Japan Tagged japan sapporo odori_park

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