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Sapporo Snow Festival

February 10, 2016

The Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido occurs every year, usually during the first two weeks of February. This past week we ventured up to Sapporo to take in the sites and squeeze in a day of skiing too.

Day 1

There are three Sapporo Snow Festival sites: Odori, Susukino, and Tsudome. The first morning we started out by exploring the Odori site. The temps were hovering around -4°C (~25°F) and there was a sharp wind, perfect conditions for wandering around the 208 snow and ice sculptures.

A massive ski and snowboard terrain park was built in the center of town with ski schools from all over Japan hucking (and crashing) all day long in front of a huge throng of onlookers.

Getting ready for the Sapporo Snow Festival https://t.co/ILcZpFtmHd

— Visit Japan (@Visit_Japan) February 9, 2016

This sculpture celebrated the 12th Anniversary of the Clash of Titans franchise.

The Tourism Board of Macau put up this impressive snow sculpture, and at night they projected a cool light show onto its façade.

After thoroughly exploring the Odori site we hopped on the train and headed to the less crowded part of the city called Maruyama. We found a fabulous bakery/café and dined on delicious soups, breads, salads, and sandwiches while watching it snow! In a few hours there was 10cm of fresh snow blanketing the already snowy landscape. It was absolutely beautiful.

Once the sun had set we ventured back out to the Odori site to see the sculptures lit up under the night sky. The shinkansen light show was my favorite.

On March 26, 2016 the shinkansen will take you from Tokyo to Sapporo (under the Tsugaru Strait) reaching speeds in excess of 320kmph (~200mph)! This life sized sculpture was built to celebrate its impending grand opening.

After snacking on some Japanese festival food (e.g. fish, long french fries, octopus balls, and hot sake) we got back on the train and headed over to the Susukino site to see the ice sculptures.

It was starting to get late and REALLY cold so after an hour or so at the Susukino site we boarded the subway and made the long ride back to our hotel. We had not really planned Day 2 but after talking to some friends we had a pretty good idea what we wanted to see....


We stayed at the APA Hotel & Resort Sapporo They spoke great English and had a massive breakfast buffet every morning for only ¥1200! The rooms were large and had a western feel with a Japanese twist (hard mattresses and bean filled pillows and an awesome shower room!).

Vanilla Air offers convenient flights up to Hokkaido. Normally they are incredibly cheap (roughly $80 RT) but during the Sapporo Snow Festival they up the price to about $150 RT, which is still pretty cheap imo. I am told that the back-country Tenkara in Hokkaido is phenomenal, so if you are planning a visit during the warmer months Vanilla Air is a great choice.

Written by Isaac Tait who now lives in San Diego but dreams of returning, one day, to Japan. You should follow him on Twitter