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Sapporo Snow Festival
February 1 - February 12
The origins of the Sapporo Snow Festival date back to 1950, when a half-dozen local high school students got together and built a half-dozen snow statues in Odori Park. This sort of activity is historically commonplace in the winter on the island of Hokkaido because of its typically heavy snowfalls. A few years later, in 1955, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, viewing participation as a training exercise, came from a nearby base and built sculptures. Their participation continues to this day. However, in 1972, Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics—its location as Japan’s northernmost island blesses its landscape with lots of snow and skiing opportunities. The Olympic games introduced Sapporo’s Snow Festival to the rest of the world.
The staging of nearly 400 spectacular ice and snow sculptures is what draws visitors to the 12-block stretch of Odori Park, home to much of the action and the majority of sculpture activity. During the day, stroll and watch the artists at work, carving up everything from life-size renderings of animals and historical monuments, temples and buildings (Taj Mahal), to scenes of Japanese life, manga characters, internationally recognizable cartoon characters, religious icons, and mazes you can walk through. The other sites that need to be well noted are Susukino site (the nightlife district, a ten-minute walk or one subway stop south of Odori) and Tsudome site (a remote spot northwest of Odori)
Throughout the streets and at all three sites, you won’t go hungry. You’ll find plenty of native eats to sample, from noodle dishes and ramen to fresh seafood such as oysters grilled and served on the half shell and soup curry, along with veggies such as potatoes and corn.
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