It’s that time of year again, where Japan’s snow season is at its best and winter festivals can be enjoyed.
The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan’s largest winter events, bringing more visitors every year from both Japan and abroad.
Every winter, about two million people come to Sapporo to see a large number of snow and ice sculptures lining Odori Park, the grounds at Community Dome Tsudome, and along the main street in Susukino.
For seven days in February, starting on the 5th, Sapporo is turned into a winter dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow.
The event first kicked off in 1950, when six snow sculptures were made by local middle and high school students, and has since grown to become one of Japan’s major events.
In addition to the rows of snow and ice statues, there is also a corner featuring a skating rink and ski-walking experience.
There is a range of events unique to winter where visitors can enjoy playing in the ice and snow, such as tube sliding and snow rafting, making it ideal for families, especially those coming from places that don’t see snow.
12 teams will compete in the international snow sculpture competition for the crown, including Australia, South Korea, Finland, Hawaii, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Poland, America, Singapore, and Thailand.
This year’s statues include Star Wars, Alice’s adventures in Snowland, Kasuga shrine central gate (a Shinto shrine in Nara) and Sazae-san (a popular Japanese comic).
With temperatures dropping below zero, and as low as minus seven, winter boots, warm clothes and anything else to keep yourselves cosy is highly recommended.
The statues are illuminated until 10pm at the Odori site, and until 11pm at the Susukino site. The Tsudome site is also open from 9am until 5pm.
The event at Odori also features a Hokkaido winter food park, where you can purchase some tasty treats to warm you up.
For more information on the Sapporo Snow Festival, visit www.snowfes.com/english/index.html and for more information on other Japanese festivals throughout the year, check out www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/festivals.