Sapporo: Yuki Matsuri
Every year for about 2 weeks in Hokkaido, Japan’s northern-most prefecture, a snow festival is held in Sapporo. It is one of the biggest snow festivals in the world, and every year about 2.5 million people from all over the world come to see the hundreds of snow and ice sculptures that are created in this snowy land and to enjoy the atmosphere of this real-life Narnia. Hokkaido winters are blistering cold, but the prefecture is one of my favorite places in the whole world. It is a rugged land whose harsh climates safeguard it from mass-population, and on the whole Hokkaido is a land that remains rather pristine.
Sapporo street view. The city is fairly modern in comparison to other Japanese cities, and was designed in the late 1800’s by a group of American and Europeans. During the winter, snow falls nearly every day. It’s just something the people there live with. Most of the roads and sidewalks retain a permanent layer of ice and snow that is compacted down by footsteps and passing cars. To attempt to keep the snow at bay with plows would be futile.
Part of one of this year’s massive snow sculptures .
Hokkaido’s prefectural character: melon bear. He’s a cross between a melon and a bear. (I love this country)
The sculptures are lit up at night. In the background in the heart of the city is a temporary ski slope that has been erected only for the duration of the festival.
The streets are lined with food vendors.
By the coast in neighboring Otaru. Most of the buildings here seem very Soviet and take upon a brutalist architectural style. I feel like this somber style too often gets a bad rap, it suits this snowy land rather well.
Some of you might be familiar with the Japanese Sapporo beer. Pictured above is the Sapporo beer museum.
Very old Sapporo beer advertisements.
Hokkaido is quite famous for its seafood. Pictured above are the best scallops that I’ve ever tasted in my life.
The Sapporo tower.
Sapporo is famous for its hearty and delicious dairy. These girls were selling warm milk.
Coffee, books, and cheesecake. Mmmm.
Hokkaido is home to the Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan, who I described in a previous post. Their art is quite beautiful and their specialty is in their wood carvings and colored fabric motifs.
There are many bears in Hokkaido.
*Note: you may be curious about the watermark signatures on the bottom corner of my photographs. They are of my last name (Caprara) converted into Kanji (Chinese characters). I feel like they complement the photos rather well and it seems they are here to stay.
Wow, I’m jealous! Didn’t make it up to the Snow Festival but am planning on it next year. I hope you had a great time and thanks for sharing the photos!
Thanks for sharing this article! I’m going to Sapporo for the Yuki Matsuri in February 2015 and can’t wait to check out the sculptures and food from Hokkaido.