This week has seen the annual snow festival come to Sapporo. All throughout the week winter festivities will take over the city, from ice sculpting to pro-snowboarding shows. 2 million tourists will descend on Sapporo over the next week to participate in this wonderful festival.
The Snow Festival (or Yuki Matsuri as its known in Japanese) has been held annually since the 1950’s and has transformed itself from a small local festival to one of the biggest events in the Japanese calendar with worldwide recognition.
Snow is regularly in the forecast in February making it the perfect time to host the festival and even on years when there is little snowfall, the Japan self-defence force help deliver snow to the city from the nearby mountains so you’ll never be disappointed for lack of snow.
Over 400 ice sculptures are displaying throughout the city with the majority being found in Odori Park. Sculptures vary from cartoon characters to celebrities to scenes from famous movies, so you can spend a full day just looking at all the different kinds there are.
Around the park are numerous food stands where you can try specialities from across the country to warm you up in the cold Hokkaido temperature.
There are various smaller art installations around the city too with previous years having igloos with lights projections dotted around smaller parks in the city.
And not just Sapporo but other towns in the area jump on the festival hype too. Otaru holds the snow light festival, where lanterns are placed around the snowy town and its famous canal. Being only 35 minutes away from Sapporo by train makes it the perfect day trip during the Snow Festival.
Of course, the most adventure seeking tourists won’t come to Sapporo during the snow festival just to look at art though. Hokkaido’s ski resorts become filled with tourists during February. Niseko, arguably the most popular ski resort in Hokkaido takes 2-3 hours from Sapporo depending on traffic by bus or just over two hours by train with 3 transfers from Sapporo.