Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is one of Japan’s most famous tourist sites. Because of its position, it gets a lot of snow, exactly like the rest of Hokkaido. This makes winter the ideal time for skiers and snowboarders to visit Hokkaido. However, by the beginning of February, the most popular activity in Sapporo shifts to something quite different, albeit still snow-related. It’s time for the snow festival sapporo.
Every February, the Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is celebrated in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. It is one of the most popular winter events in Japan. Every year in mid-February, hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures line the streets of Sapporo, Hokkaido. Hundreds of sculptures made of white snow and ice create a fantasy ambiance, ranging from copies of famous Japanese and foreign architectural items to renderings of fictional worlds. The festival began in 1950, when six snow statues were created in Odori Park along the city’s main boulevard by local high school students. It drew an unexpectedly large number of spectators, and the event gradually became a part of daily life in Sapporo throughout the years. Today, the festival has grown to become Hokkaido’s largest winter event, attracting over 2 million visitors each year.
A Little History of the Snow Festival
The Snow Festival originated in 1950 as a one-day celebration in Odori Park, when six local high school students erected six snow monuments. The Japan Self-Defense Forces from the adjacent Makomanai base joined in in 1955 and created the first gigantic snow sculptures, for which the Snow Festival is today famous. Prior to the Sapporo Snow Festival, there were several snow festivities in Sapporo, but all of them were cancelled due to World War II.
A flight from Sapporo to Tokyo crashed into Tokyo Bay on February 4, 1966, killing all 126 passengers and 7 staff members on board. Many of the passengers were on their way back to Tokyo after attending the snow festival. Due to the 1974 energy crisis, snow figures were constructed using drums. This was owing to a gasoline scarcity created by the crisis, and many of the trucks required to transport snow to the site were unavailable. The International Snow Statue Competition began the same year, and many snow monuments made by teams from various countries, particularly from Sapporo’s sister towns such as Munich, have appeared since since.
When the accumulated snowfall is minimal, the Self-Defense Force, whose involvement is considered a training exercise, transports snow from outside Sapporo. The largest sculptures were housed at the Makomanai base, one of three primary sites from 1965, with an emphasis on providing play area for children. The Makomanai site was decommissioned in 2005, and operations were transferred to the Sapporo Satoland site in Higashi-ku in 2006. Satoland was relocated to the Tsudome (Tsutomu, Sapporo Community Dome) location in 2009. The Tsudome, located in Sapporo Satoland, is a sports dome that can accommodate a variety of sporting events.
In 1990, Nakajima Park was established as one of the festival grounds. It was, however, decommissioned as a site in 1992. The third location, known as the Susukino Ice Festival (Susukino Kori no Saiten), is located in Susukino nightlife zone and consists primarily of ice carvings. In 1983, the site was chosen as one of the festival locations. The Susukino Queen of Ice, a female beauty pageant, is hosted at the venue every year. On February 7, 2012 (the 63rd Festival), a Snow Miku (Hatsune Miku) snow sculpture crashed on the Odori Park 6th Venue, injuring one tourist woman. This is the first accident in the Snow Festival’s history to result in injuries caused by the collapse or collapse of a snow sculpture. The snow sculpture’s design was large, with skinny legs and poor balance. On February 6, the temperature was 3.3 degrees Celsius, and on February 7, it was 2.2 degrees Celsius. The cause is thought to be that it has become fragile. As a result, the executive committee removed all or part of the large snow sculptures and ten civilian snow sculptures because they were in danger of collapsing.
How are the Sculptures made for the Festival?
The gigantic snow statues are designed beginning in the autumn of the previous year. A 1/40 scale model is produced based on the draught. The blueprints are then drawn, followed by a discussion regarding how to proceed with the production of the statues. The snow used for a massive snow sculpture can fill 600 trucks and pile up to a 4- to 5-story skyscraper. A total of 6,000 trucks are used to collect clean snow from places around Sapporo.
Heavy machinery is used to pile up snow at the sculpture’s location, and a scaffold is created. After that, the snow is bonded and stabilised. The statue is brought to life by hand after a rough outline is created with heavy machines. This continues throughout the night. Once the shape of the snow sculpture is established, more smaller sculpted components are added to complete the fine details.
Some of the Best Sites to visit during the Snow Festival
The festival’s attractiveness is not limited to snow statues, but also to a variety of snow and ice-related activities. Among these is the outdoor skating rink, a famous attraction at “1-chome at J:COM Hiroba.” You can also rent skates and have a good time beneath the Sapporo Tower. There are also several stage events in the same location. The entrance price is 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for elementary school pupils and younger (60 minutes replacement system).
A gigantic skiing platform dubbed “Shiroi Koibito PARK AIR Jumping Platform” will be located inside the “3-chome at HTB PARK AIR Square.” The height is 24 metres, the length is 65 metres, and the highest slope is 39 degrees. Many enjoyable snowboarding and skiing tournaments are held here, which are arranged by prominent Japanese sportsmen.
After you’ve seen all of the sights, go to “6-chome Citizen’s Plaza” if you get hungry. You may eat traditional Hokkaido dishes such as ramen, soup curry, crab, sea urchin, scallops, and seafood in general, as well as zangi (Hokkaido fried chicken) and yakitori (grilled chicken).
You’ll also find new specialties here, such as the “Shio Korogingisukan,” which drew the attention of even Fall culinary events. A culinary portion comprising international cuisine and local cuisines is also available at the 11-chome site, which hosts the International Snow Statue Competition.
In addition, the “2-chome Kamui Snow Plaza” recreates “Golden Kamui,” a set of Hokkaido in the Meiji era, with projection colouring and mapping in partnership with popular animation firms.
Enjoy the traditional Ainu dances and live music, as well as the display of folk crafts, and make sure to buy your mementos from the little boutiques selling Ainu-patterned and decorated goods.
Susukino and Tsutomu Sites
Aside from the Odori location, the city has two other places featuring festival displays and attractions. Susukino Ice World 2020 is one of them (Susukino site). The theme is “Enjoy the Ice,” and visitors will be delighted by enormous and medium-sized ice sculptures.
On each block, you’ll find a variety of statues, ranging from those you can gaze at to those made even more enchanting by illumination, to those you can touch and ride. More local delicacies can be found at the ice bar. This region is easily accessible via the Subway Namboku Line or Susukino station.
The Tsutomu facility in Higashi Ward opens a little earlier (January 31) and has ice slides and snow rafts for both children and adults. In addition, there will be events that will not be impacted by weather fluctuations in the indoor area. There will be theatrical events, playgrounds for children, and a warm food area. Sakaemachi Station on the Toho Subway Line is a 10-minute walk from the site.
Remember to bring these!
Layers! It’s freezing outdoors, baby! Don’t forget your gloves, mittens, caps, scarves, long johns/thermal underwear, thick warm socks, and well-fitting boots. The ice can be treacherous, and if you’re not careful, you’ll quickly find yourself sliding away. Pack or buy hokkairo (chemical hand warmer packets or rechargeable type), tissues for runny noses, a camera for the wonders you’ll see, and pocket change for the different delectable street food munchies (canned coffee is never so delicious as in frozen Hokkaido). More in japan to see here.
The festival is held in February, which is the coldest month in Sapporo. If you wish to participate in winter sports, make sure you wear snow-resistant clothing, such as ski wear.
Going Around the City
Sapporo has a decent metro system and some attractive streetcars, but the city of 2 million people is compact and walkable for the most part. In actuality, unlike many Japanese cities, the streets are laid out in a simple grid system, with block-shaped blocks and addresses such as “North 2, West 6,” which corresponds to the distance between the Odori Park blocks and the Sushigawa Dori Park blocks.
Furthermore, much of the city centre may be explored below through a massive network of tunnels, many of which double as shopping arcades and link to subway stations. In a place where there is snow on the ground for more than half the year, this makes perfect sense, yet from above, you might not know how much of the city is underneath.
If you must walk on the surface roads, be aware that they can be quite icy and slippery, and even the most sure footed may end up splayed on the roadside. The Sapporo Tourism Bureau even recommends that visitors purchase ice cleats (Superdome) for their shoes, with an attachable pair costing roughly 500 yen at local shops. There will also be what appear to be newspaper boxes packed with packets of rock salt, which individuals can help by distributing as they cross the road.
What to Take Home
If you prefer to leave only footsteps and take only photographs, that’s excellent. For the rest of us, there are a few special items you might wish to slip into your luggage for family and friends back home.
This town is home to several well-known confectioners. Shiroi Koibito (“White Boyfriend”) is a popular cookie created by the Ishiya firm that consists of a coating of white chocolate sandwiched between two thin butter cookies. There’s even a White Boyfriend Factory, which also serves as a frightening toy museum where you can observe them being created.
The famous Marusei Butter Sand, a sandwich cookie with a delicious butter filling filled with raisins, is made by the exquisite Rokkatei firm. The company also creates a variety of other delicious sweets with lovely floral packaging.
Royce’ (don’t ask us where they got the wayward apostrophe) is yet another confectionery company that produces nama (fresh) chocolates that are popular not only in Japan but across Asia. These creamy, cocoa-dusted truffle chocolate squares melt rapidly in the mouth and have a wonderful velvet finish.
Sapporo Snow Festival 2022
The 72nd Sapporo Snow Festival will be placed on the dates listed below in 2022:
February 5th (Saturday) – February 12th (Sat.)
Because of Covid-19, it will be held on a lower scale, and the exhibition will only be held at Odori Park.
This year, the Susukino and Tsudome sites, as well as other events and street food vendors, have been cancelled. The winter illumination has been on display at Odori Park since November, and it will be continued for the Sapporo Snow Festival. There will also be an online event on February 5th (Sat.) and 28th (Mon.) with movies showing the process of constructing ice sculptures and a photo contest, among other things.
The Sapporo Snow Festival is without a doubt the most popular event in Hokkaido!
Every year, each site is expected to be extremely active with last-minute preparations. If you want to witness how the festival is being prepared, go to Odori on the day before the opening or Susukino three days before the opening and you will see people working on the ice sculptures. For safety considerations, all ice sculptures will be dismantled the day after the Snow Festival. As a result, the festival is quite brief, and this is the only time you may visit the snow and ice museum in a single year. Those who want to experience the unique winter environment created by snow and ice sculptures should plan ahead of time. This interesting, unforgettable scene can only be found at Sapporo Snow Festival, the big northern spectacular.