The Sapporo Snow Festival begins on February 6th and runs until February 12th this year. Activities such as the snow slide and snow rafting activities began on February 1st at the Tsudome Community Dome site and continue until February 12th.
This year is the 68th Sapporo Snow Festival, which has its origins back in 1950 when local high school students made six impromptu snow and ice sculptures in the city's Odori Park. In 1955, the Japanese Self Defense Forces helped out to make the large ice sculptures seen today.
The main venues to see the ice and snow sculptures are: Odori Park, Tsudome Community Dome and Susukino - the major entertainment and commercial area of Sapporo, south of Sapporo Station. The sculptures at Odori Park are illuminated until 10pm every evening, while those in Susukino continue lit until 11pm.
Among this year's over 200 ice sculptures are ice replicas of the video game, Final Fantasy VII with the sculpture Decisive Battle: Final Fantasy in Snow complete with a new sound system. Continuing the media theme is Star Wars 40th Anniversary - Star Wars in White. Both statues are at the main Odori venue.
Traditional Japanese architecture is represented in snow and ice by a replica of the Chukondo (Central Golden Hall) of Kofukuji Temple in Nara. The original Central Golden Hall at Kofukuji was destroyed by fire in 1717 and although a smaller reconstruction was built in the 1800's a completely new full-scale replica is under construction, due to be completed in 2018.
Also look out for the Whale House - the winning design from a contest of elementary schoolchildren in Hokkaido, Totto Shopping Street, the official Mascot of 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games, Ezomon, along with three educational characters from Sapporo: Chikkyun, Ohhon and Yupporo. The sculpture Anipop Club features more characters as does Yabee-Bear, a local yuru-chara.
Internationally-themed ice sculptures include the Arc de Triomphe and Taiwan-Taipei Guest House.
As well as the amazing ice sculptures, other entertainments include an "Ice Queen" contest in Susukino and an international ice sculpture festival with around a dozen teams from such nations as USA (Hawaii & Portland), Korea (Daejeon), Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Latvia, Finland, Indonesia, and Poland taking part this year.
Other entertainments on offer are snow slides, ice mazes, ice skating, snowboarding demonstrations at Shiroi Koibito Park Air Jumping Platform and lots of great Hokkaido food and drink: hot potatoes, seafood and Sapporo ramen. There's also yosakoi dancing in fish costumes from students of Sapporo University.
Around 2 million visitors are expected to attend this year's event. 2.4 million attended the Sapporo Snow Festival in 2014.
Sapporo Snow Festival (Official Site in Japanese, Chinese, Korean & English)
Tel: 011 211 2376
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