I’m excited about some upcoming travel in the month of February! In just over a week, I’ll be taking the Hokutosei sleeper train to Sapporo for the Sapporo Snow Festival. I heard about this festival a great many years ago, and I figured I would never actually get to go. It was just something on TV, a world away, how could I ever go? But I’m going! It will be my first time to another of the main islands – my entire time in Japan so far has been spent on Honshu, the biggest island. I’m excited to go to Hokkaido, even if I will be freezing the entire time! (Don’t worry, I will be dressing appropriately!) After that I will go see someone I know in Sendai for an overnight – my first time in Tohoku! And then I’m also going to go to Nagano to go see the snow monkeys at Jigokudani Yaen Koen! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to – there are a lot of other places I haven’t been yet either, most notably Osaka, but also Kyushu and Shikoku…but I did some reading and asked around and it’s pretty obvious: snow monkeys are where it’s at! I will certainly be returning to Japan in the years to come, and Osaka etc. will be easy to visit then. But the snow monkeys are rather off the beaten path – you can’t get any closer by vehicle than a mile away, you have to walk the last mile – so the ideal time to visit is while I’m living here! There is a nifty one-day tour from Tokyo that goes to see them and includes a really old temple, but not only is it held only on days when I have to work, but it’s “intended for overseas travelers only” and residents of Japan (which I am, I guess) cannot participate! So I will be making my way up there on my own, either in one day, or as an overnight trip to make it a little easier. We’ll see. Anyway, I’m looking forward to exploring some new parts of Japan in february!