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Home - Travel - Essentials - Scott's Japan Travel Journal
Sapporo Snow Festival - Preliminary Report

Scott's Japan Travel Journal
by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com

This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.

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2012/02/04 - Sapporo Snow Festival - Preliminary Report
by scott

The Taj Mahal at the Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is known for its massive snow sculptures that are built along twelve blocks of Odori Park in the center of the city. Constructed of a hard mixture of snow and ice, they are built by large, organized teams using thousands of truckloads of snow brought in for the festival. Heavy machinery does the initial shaping, but afterwards the artwork is cut and shaped by hand. The sculptures can reach several stories tall and often feature large stages were dance performances and shows are held.

This year's festival runs from February 6 to 12, 2012; however, we arrived in Sapporo a few days early to check out these amazing snow sculptures as they were being built. Surprisingly most of the larger sculptures were already pretty much finished, which was a little disappointing as I was hoping to see more of their construction.

Sawa Honmare from the Nadeshiko Japan women's soccer team

Tsurugajo Castle - the large sculptures were mostly off limits as construction continued

The Japanese Self Defense Forces did a lot of the construction work

Self defense forces use compressed air to clean off a layer of fresh snow

While the larger sculptures are pretty much finished, there was still a lot of work to be done on the smaller, community built sculptures. Small only in comparison to their massive brethren, these sculptures stand several meters tall and up to two hundred of them will be built around the festival grounds by a variety of school groups, families, and clubs. Anime and manga characters are always a popular theme for these statues.

Work continued on the smaller community build sculptures

Lots of people were working hard to finish their snow sculptures

The sculptures are built of a mixture of snow and water

They are shaped using a variety of tools including snow saws, chisels, rasps, and even cheese graters

Huge blocks of snow wait to be cut in the international sculpture competition

Sapporo's Susukino entertainment district serves as a secondary site where about one hundred ice sculptures will be built. Only a few were finished today, but the sculptors were hard at work setting huge blocks of ice and cutting away at them with their chainsaws and chisels. During the festival the Susukino district is really lively at night with all its restaurants, bars and illuminated ice sculpture. I look forward to seeing everything finished when the festival starts on Monday.

Ice sculptors hard at work in the Susukino area

Blocks of ice are hoisted by cranes and set in place by hand

Preliminary sketches before the carving begins

Electric chainsaws and ice chisels are used to shape the ice

Some of the ice sculptures were already finished, while most are still being built

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List of Posts:
2014/04/16 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
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2014/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
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2012/02/04 - Sapporo Snow Festival - Preliminary Report
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