Know your Kanji sizes
大 Big, tai, dai
中 Middle, chuu
小 Small, sho
After planning the best possible route from Hiroshima to Sapporo, I came across some interesting facts. Apparently there is a ferry from a town on the northern coast of Honshu, Maizuru (舞鶴) to Otaru (小樽, 30 minutes to Sapporo by JR), and it is relatively inexpensive, but it takes twenty hours. The Shinkansen doesn't even run to Hokkaido; evidently, once you get about three hours north of Tokyo, you're stuck with local and limited express routes. The only train that can take you from Honshu to Hokkaido runs underground for more than 60 km on the Seikan Tunnel: the longest train tunnel in the world. They say everything is bigger in Texas... well, Japan isn't a slouch, either.
The timing of the Sapporo Snow Festival (Feb 6-12) couldn't be more perfect for those seeking omiyage or presents for Valentine's Day. Granted, in Japan women traditionally give presents on Valentine's Day, and have the favor returned the next month on White Day. Sapporo offers Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人), "a chocolate slice sandwiched in two wafers of sweet biscuit, individually wrapped and available boxed in a range of different quantities." Japan wins out again in variety of desserts.
Gaikokujin columnists for the Japan Times: