Every year approximately 2 million people brave the snow and frigid temperatures of Sapporo to enjoy one of the most popular snow festivals in Japan known as the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (the Sapporo Snow Festival).
The festival which takes place over the course of seven days in early February, originally started in 1950 when a group of high school students constructed a few snow sculptures in Odori Park. Since then, it has developed into a large, commercialized event featuring spectacular snow and ice sculptures, some measuring more than 82 feet wide and 49 feet high, and spread out across three sites: Odori, Susukino and Tsu Dome.
The main site is Odori where along with the large scale sculptures there are more than 100 smaller ones on display. There are also several concerts and events which take place here, many of which utilize the sculptures as their stage and background.
The Susukino site is located in what is known as Sapporo’s largest entertainment district. Here you will find approximately one hundred ice sculptures. The site is merely one subway stop south of Odori Park and easily accessible.
The family oriented Tsu Dome site is less centrally located and features three types of snow slides, snow rafting and more snow sculptures. Inside the dome, there are numerous food stands and a performance stage.
The subject of the sculptures varies and often features an event, famous building or person from the previous year. Visitors can also enjoy a bird’s eye view of Odori Park from the observation deck of the Sapporo TV Tower. Access to the observation deck costs ¥700.
Odori Park is accessible via the Odori Subway Station, using the Tozai Line, the Namboku Line or the Toho Line.
Oftentimes, tourists plan their travel to Japan during the spring to glimpse a view of the the country’s famous blooming cherry tress or during the fall when the Japanese maple leaves change color. The Snow Festival is just one of many reasons to visit Japan and Sapporo particularly, during the winter months.
Web page: http://www.snowfes.com/english/
Location: Odori Park, Main Street in Susukino, Community Dome Tsudome (Sakae-machi 885-1, Higashi-ku, Sapporo)