Sapporo: The 2023 Snow Festival

So here we are at the end of February. I wish I had done this in a more timely manner, but I just couldn’t get my act together to actually sit down and write a proper write up of this event.

I’m going to try, though, for the sake of continuity with this blog.

After three years, the Sapporo Snow Festival kicked off on a Saturday, on February 24, 2023. This year, instead of the customary two weeks, the event was shortened to a week. I think this is the compromise the planners envisioned when they were trying to get the event going while still trying to keep the cases of Corona infections down. I think it was a decent way to accommodate everyone. The crowds came and I’m glad that tourism opened up enough to allow international and domestic visitors.

The festival is run in conjunction with other events happening at the Susukino site, but I’m only focusing on the one held downtown in the Odori area. This year, the Tsudome events were canceled.

As usual, the main features were the giant structures that took up most of the blocks of Odori Park. By tradition, the Japanese Self Defense Force built one of them. This year, the military recreated Britain’s Embley House, which was the home of the Nightingale Family, most notably, Florence. It’s fitting because the whole theme was to remember health care workers all over the world.

The second featured giant structure was Hoheikan is something very much related to Hokkaido. This sculpture was also built by the Self-Defense forces but in conjunction with Hokkaido TV. Hoheikan is a popular tourist spot in Nakajima Park and functions mostly as a wedding venue and a citizen center. It’s worth a visit if you’re interested in Japanese buildings that utilize Western architectural styles. Check out their website here.

The last major one is was done by the Sapporo Snow Sculpture Committee with guidance from experts of the Hokkaido University Museum.

The other large structures seemed to be promotional, one higlighting the horse-racing scene in Hokkaido:

And the other one was from a very popular anime: My Hero Academia featuring the main protagonist and antagonist, Deku and Shigaraki.

Anime seemed to be very popular among the smaller sculptures. These were made by volunteer groups and they were dotted throughout the area in front of the Clock Tower.

And yes, a couple of the giant structures had projection mapping at night, but most of the sculptures were lit up in the evening.

So there you have it, a quiet celebration of winter in Sapporo.

I promise to do better with next year’s event.

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