Sapporo Snow Festival – Sapporo, the city that receives more snow than any other metropolis on Earth

Landing on Hokkaido in mid-winter is a highly provisional business. As our plane descends from blue to white above the coldest and emptiest of Japan’s main islands, the pilot says he might yet have to divert as far south as Tokyo. When he somehow finds the runway at New Chitose Airport, it looks and feels like touching down inside a snow cloud.

The same whiteness fills the windows of the train into Sapporo, whose citizens appear to live underground in a complex of heated passageways, malls and subterranean transit systems.

At street level, the foothpaths and roads form a grid of ice embedded in a snowfield, which illustrates the way this city was made to order. Designated a new northern administrative outpost by the restored Meiji Empire in 1868, it had been a settlement of fewer than 10 people only a decade earlier. The city’s population has grown to more than 1.9 million, with thousands of tourists blowing in for the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in February, making a virtue of the fact the city receives more snow than any other metropolis on Earth – more than six metres every year.

During the festival, the Susukino entertainment district becomes an outdoor gallery of ice sculptures. Popular cartoon characters, dinosaurs and mythological creatures line the main thoroughfares, teeth and claws sharpened to glistening points. Odori Park, meanwhile, becomes an avenue of vast architectural models – Korean temples, German cathedrals, detailed large-scale replicas of world-famous monuments – all shaped and carved from solid blocks of snow by soldiers of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces, for whom this event has been a training exercise since the 1950s. Training for what, we wonder, as they touch up the corners with chainsaws, civil engineering in the next Ice Age?

Read the rest of the story: Ice castles and ale.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010 – Snow and Ice Sculpture Highlights

Sapporo Snow Festival at Night with Beautifully lights!

Iolani Palace [Photo by tmaeda_japan]

Gundam [Photo by あくあ]

Gundam [Photo by あくあ]

Michael Jackson [Photo by tmaeda_japan]

Highlights Reel

Chibi Maruko-chan [Photo by あくあ]

Northern Zoos [Photo by 悪さー]

Northern Zoos [Photo by 悪さー]

The Place Where Dreams Come True [Photo by minkara]

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010 – Hokkaido

Entering its 61st year, the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan will take place in the Hokkaido region of Japan from February 6 through February 11. Not only attracting local Japanese visitors, the Sapporo Snow Festival draws international interest as well and more than 2 million visitors are expected to converge in the downtown Sapporo area to see the stunning snow and ice sculptures, entertainment and sample the Japanese cuisine.The Sapporo Snow Festival began in 1950 by a group of high school students who sculpted six statues along the Odori Park and over the last 61 years, has grown into an international phenomenon rivaled only by Harbin Ice and Snow Festival and the Quebec Winter Carnival!

The festival takes place in predominantly three main districts: the Odori Park area, the main streets of Susukino and at the Supporo Community Dome in Tsudome.

Key dates at the Sapporo Snow Festival not to be missed:

  • February 5: 6:30 p.m. – Opening ceremony at the Minami 4 Nishi 4 location
  • February 5: 7:30 p.m. – Photos with the Ice Queen
  • February 6: 11:00 a.m. – Ice Sculpture Award Ceremony at the Susukino site (Minami 4 Nishi 4)
  • February 11: 8:45 p.m. Closing Ceremony at the main ice sculptures at the Susukino site.

How to get there:
There are many tour companies offering special tours to the Sapporo Snow Festival. I recommend you call them as opposed to trying to navigate their websites to determine total package pricing from the Orlando area. I can tell you that you will need to change planes at least two times during travel, once in US and the other in Tokyo to eventually arrive in Sapporo.

  • JTB Tours – 1-888-452-5725
  • Pop Japan Travel – 866-680-1589 ext 111
  • Royal Adventure Travel – See list of travel consultants
  • Honolulu: 1-808-593-9387