An Icy Cool Festival

Have you chosen a gift to give your special someone this February? Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and if you don’t want to share the date with millions this year, why not try celebrating it early?

Though Valentine’s Day it isn’t really a big event for most people in Japan, February is also about the Sapporo Snow Festival and for some people, it’s one of those events in February that both young and old are excited about.

Sapporo 1

The Sapporo Snow festival is a festival held annually in Sapporo, Japan over seven days in February. Currently, Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome are the main sites of the festival. The 2013 Yuki-matsuri dates are February 5 to 11. According to those who have attended previous celebrations, this festival is also a chance to promote international relations and feature the creativity of snow sculptors from various regions.

Sapporo 2

The contest has been held at the Odori Park site since 1974 and the subject of the statues varies and often features an important event, a famous site or person from the previous year. The snow festival started in 1950, according to history. The Japan Self-Defense Forces have always participated in this event, starting 1955, the group which also built the first largest snow sculpture. During the years when snowfall is low, the Self-Defense Force, whose participation is also considered a training exercise, brought in snow from outside Sapporo.

Sapporo Snow Festival at Night

Sapporo 3

The Odori site hosts the main section of the festival, featuring illuminated sculptures. Tsudome features snow slides and mazes for kids while Susukino hosts an ice sculpture contest and is illuminated until midnight. The festival dates for 2013 are from February 5th-11th, and visitors should expect a nippy air at this time of year and hopefully a good deal of snow.

Sapporo 4

Photos by hirotomo, iyoupapa and CharlesLam via Flickr Creative Commons

Have you seen previous Sapporo snow festivals? Share us your experiences on the comments below.

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GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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