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Goin’ Japanesque!

3 Attraction Packed Winter Festivals in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is a prominent Japanese travel destination. While it is a popular tourist site to visit year-round, it is even more so during the winter season. Today we will be focusing on the winter festivals of Hokkaid, and will be introducing our top 3 recommended festivals to attend and their main highlights. 


Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival is a tradition that originated in 1950, when the local middle and high school students got together to build and exhibit six snow sculptures. Today over two million people from around the world gather together each year for this growing celebration, that is proudly becoming one of Japan’s key winter festivals.

#1: Snow and Ice Sculptures from Around the World

Star Wars,

Love Live,

One Piece,

There are varying sizes of snow and ice sculptures displayed along the 1.5km on Odori Park between 1 and 12-chome (street block), where the sculpting process can also be observed. There is a wide variety of exhibits starting with a giant 15m tall ice sculpture, to famous anime characters made out of snow. Pieces from all over the world can be found in the International Plaza on 11-chome. 

#2: Projection Mapping


These pieces of art are not just any other snow and ice sculptures. The projection and night lighting using state-of-the-art projection mapping is a masterpiece.

#3: Sapporo Community Dome (Tsu-Dome)

Not only can you spend your time studying the beautiful art work, but you can also physically take part in the winter festivities by participating in sledding events and giant slides.

You can also look down upon the main venue, Odori Park, from the Sapporo TV Tower. We hope you take advantage of this hidden gem for some amazing photo opportunities. Information: Website


Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival


This is an illumination festival, where you can participate hands-on. A majestic space is created using ice and seven colors of the visible spectrum on a vast land.

#1: View from the Ice Observatory

You can enjoy an exceptional 360° panoramic view of the venue from the 10m high main observatory. It is as beautiful as the northern lights.

#2: The Hyobaku Shrine


A shrine hidden within a serene snow scene! Once you pass under the entrance (torii) you will find a slightly unusual cave. We highly recommend taking the time to visit this site so you may witness first-hand the beauty within.

#3: Winter Fireworks

In Japan, fireworks are typically reserved for the summertime. While it is unusual to witness any during the winter, this festival is an exception to that rule. These winter fireworks are launched exclusively on the weekends. Related: Why Have Fireworks in the Summer? Japanese Sentiments and Traditions

Information: Map
Dates: 1/23, 2016 – 3/27, 2016


Otaru Snow Light Path


A fantastical winter tradition held in the port city of Otaru, where you can still enjoy the old Hokkaido sceneries. Countless candles light up the white snow.

#1: The Otaru Canal Snow Candles


The large number of candles floating along the Otaru Canal is wondrous. The retro streets and brick lined warehouses, combined with the gentle lighting will pull you into a magical world that will leave you speechless.

#2: Temiya-Line Venue


The Temiya-line venue is just as big as the Otaru Canal. The Temiya-line railroad, discontinued in 1985, is still preserved within the famous snow tunnel until this day. While this is already an Otaru tourist destination because of the railroad, there definitely is increased value in visiting during the festival season. 

#3: Handmade Artwork


The Otaru Snow Light Path is actually established through volunteer work. The large collection of art sporadically placed through the town is actually all hand made by the local Otaru people. This is a festival that cherishes human warmth.

Since this tradition is held at the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival, it is a great opportunity to participate in both celebrations. Otaru also has fantastic seafood, so we hope you have a chance to enjoy some delicious sushi or sashimi. It can get pretty chilly during the festival so oden (a dish with various ingredients slowly stewed in a light soy-based broth) would be another great food option where you can enjoy some traditional Japanese street food that will warm your body up from the core.

Information: Map
Dates: 2/5, 2016 – 2/14, 2016

Related: Three Hidden Hot Springs Nestled in the Hokkaido Wilderness

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