IT’S the biggest snow festival in Japan and attracts millions of visitors from around the world. Every February, Sapporo city centre is transformed into a fantasy world of crystal-like artistic creations.
From famous rock stars to giant royal palaces, housesized cartoon figures to tiny snowmen – hundreds of breathtaking snow statues and ice sculptures line Odori Park, the grounds at Community Dome Tsudome and the main street in Susukino.
Every year, countries from across the globe enter the festival’s sculpting competition and last year Lithuania won with its honeycomb sculpture. Although Lithuania won last year, the most popular and talked-about sculpture was the giant “Sazae-san”, which is one of the oldest and most popular Japanese cartoon of all times.
The festival started 63 years ago with some small snow statues built by local high school students. In 1955, the Japanese Self-Defence Forces from the nearby Makomanai base joined in, and built the first large snow sculpture, for which the Snow Festival has now become famous.
These days, more than 6000 truckloads of snow are being used to create the sculptures. This year The Sapporo Snow Festival will be held from February 6 – 12 and for those who would like to do go on a snow festival sightseeing tour – Asahikawa, Lake Shikotsu and Otaru, amongst others, hold smaller but equally spectacular festivals.