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Hokkaido’s Beautiful Yuki Matsuri

Posted By on Feb 10, 2015

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With Japan’s long shape, it covers a wide range of climates – from the subtropical Okinawan sun to the cold Hokkaido snow. To celebrate these white winters, a number of prefectures host a Yuki Matsuri, or snow festival.

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Taking place in February, the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri is perhaps the most well-known and one of the largest winter events in all of Japan. Over two million travelers visit this 7-day long event every year in order to enjoy the festive atmosphere and see the grand displays with friends and family.

From humble beginnings, this festival started with high school students who made six snow statues in the heart of Sapporo, Odori Park – a place where many of the city’s festivals take place. As the popularity of the festival increased, so has the number of venues. Along with Odori Park, the other two main venues are Susukino and Tsudome. It has become such an iconic event that even if there isn’t snow in Sapporo, snow is brought in from other cities in order to make this festival a success.

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With three sites, there is much to do for the whole family. The main event is at Odori Park, there are about a dozen showcased snow sculptures. These sculptures are part of an international snow sculpture contest, with teams all over the world competing to have the best sculpture. But there are also hundreds of smaller scale sculptures to mesmerize visitors. Organizers also hold concerts at the main stage to entertain guests in this 1.5 km long venue.

Susukino is the second location. Taking place in the entertainment district of Sapporo, it provides a vibrant contrast to the pure white snow. This location features elaborate ice sculptures that line the street. The sights are even more awe-inspiring at night when the sculptures are lit up into colorful displays. There is also a beauty contest to crown the Susukino Queen of Ice.

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The most recent addition to the Snow Festival is the Sapporo Community Dome, also known as Tsudome. Added as a venue in 2009, Tsudome entices visitors by having a variety of snow and ice events that is fun for the whole family, like snow and ice slides. Local residents create snow sculptures to greet visitors to this outdoor area. Inside the dome, visitors can take a break and enjoy authentic Hokkaido food.

[post by Beth]

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Beth Williams

Originally from Chicago, Beth got her first true taste of travel when she studied abroad in Japan during her final year of university. She ended up loving Asia so much, she found herself moving right back upon graduating and is currently teaching English full-time in Hong Kong. Armed with her camera and a passion for travel, she is currently on a mission to photograph the world-- proving that you can work the normal “9-5” and still find time to travel on her blog Besudesu Abroad.

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