Imagine a huge palace lit up with amazing details. Or Hello Kitty perhaps or even a gargatuan Christmas bow as big as a giant boulder. Or tunnels and slides all for the kids to frolic in….all made out of snow.
The Sapporo Snow Festival, one of Japan’s largest winter events, attracts a growing number of visitors from Japan and abroad every year.
Every winter, about two million people come to Sapporo to see the hundreds of beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures which line Odori Park,the grounds at Satoland, and the main street in Susukino.
For seven days in February, these statues and sculptures (both large and small) turn Sapporo into a winter dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow.
The first snow festival was held on February, 1950 at Odori Park, when local high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park. The aim of it was to present citizens outdoor pleasures during the long winter in Hokkaido. This included fun events like folk dancing, outdoor movies, dog races, and much more.
The festival took off and is now one of the best-loved festivals not just by the island’s residents but by the entire country as well as the world.
In 1995, at the 6th festival, the Self Defence Army joined in and made some huge sculptures (something the festival is famous for now) as well as opening its base at Makomanai for children showcasing a plethora of delightful ice and snow sculptures from fairy tales, with ice slides and tunnels in the snow.
From these humble beginnings, the Sapporo Snow Festival has evolved to become one of the biggest and most popular of Japan’s winter events.