Japan is one of the most culturally-enriched countries in the world. Every year, countless festivals are enjoyed in various themes, inviting locals and tourists alike to have fun and participate in several activities.
Although some festivals are more famous than others, like the Cherry Blossom Festival which is held during spring, there are also some fun and quirky festivals you should experience as well, such as the Sapporo Snow festival. To those who are unfamiliar with Sapporo Snow Festival, here are five things you must know:
When is it held? The event starts on February 6 and ends at February 12 at Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, Japan. The festival, called "Yuki Matsuri" in Japanese, isn't contained in one place. Each year, the festival is celebrated in three main sites-- Odori Site, Susukino Site and Tsu Dome Site.
What's it all about? Basically, it is a winter festival that features impressive ice sculptures and snow statues. The theme for the sculptures differs every year, but the inspiration mostly comes from trending and popular icons, prop references or famous buildings. On 2004, one of the most famous ice sculptures made during the event is Hideki Matsui, a popular basketball player who got drafted by the New York Yankees.
How did it start? It began in 1950, when a group of high school students built several snow statues in the Odori Park. The residents loved it so much it became a tradition. On 1955, he Japan Self-Defense Forces joined in and made beautiful, towering ice sculptures. It then became famous around the world and hence the Sapporo Snow Festival was born.
What can we expect this year? At Odori Park, watch out for the massive snow sculptures that are tall and big as buildings. You'll also get to see Star Wars themed ice sculptures such as a giant "Kylo Ren". In the Susukino site, expect to be blown away by the entries included in the Ice Carving Contest where over 60 ice sculptures are displayed. Meanwhile in the Tsudome site, you'll be able to enjoy snow rafting and a new activity called "Sled Slope".
How do we get there? There are a couple of travel options to get to Sapporo. You could take a flight at the nearest airport, purchase a Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto bullet train ticket and catch the Hokuto limited express train that stops at Sapporo, or if you're near at Oarai in Ibaraki prefecture, you could try boarding an overnight ferry up to Tomakomai, or from Niigata to Otaru. It's advisable to book travel options in advance as prices are steeper during the festival.
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