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I barely recognize Sapporo’s Odori Park clothed in its summer coat of flowers. The last time I journeyed north to Hokkaido, this dozen-block strip of land running straight as a die through the middle of its capital city was sporting massive artistic creations fashioned for the annual Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival). That February, the lush greenery, the beds of marigolds and the elegant rose garden — which in summer marks the park’s western end — were all under meters of snow. So it’s nice to see the city without shivering my way through it.

The only one in danger of a chill at the moment is my 2-year-old, as she cavorts in a mini-waterpark of fountains, bridges and stone obstacles near the park’s ninth block. For a cold-weather city, Sapporo has some of the best water features to help little ones beat the heat — all for free.

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