What do you want to do before you die? I know one thing I had to do. Just a few months ago my home in Tohoku was bombarded by blizzards and nightly snowfall. I didn’t think it could get any colder until I went to Hokkaido. Peaking at negative 12 Celsius, Hokkaido welcomed me with its frosty charm. Then again it was supposed to be cold because I went to the weeklong snow and ice festival in central Sapporo, Hokkaido. Each year in February, the most amazing scenes of the universe explode into the human realm. This place was just amazing and beautiful in so many ways. Oh, you must go.
When people think of this snow festival, they think of snow. The modest snowman, however, is on vacation. Renting his timeshare are massive structures of snow over six stories tall. The Taj Mahal, Mickey Mouse, Lupe from One Piece, and a Japanese castle? No, that is just the beginning. There are over 200 snow creations large and small, ranging from anime characters and artistic manifestations to lifelike beauty in snow form. Additionally, there are ice sculptures occupying a street a few blocks away from the snow sculptures in the park. Each year is different at the snow festival, so each year is a new experience. This past year was the year of the dragon, thus there were many dragon sculptures to admire. Also, this past year was notably hotter than the last decade. Some of the smaller structures had partially collapsed from melting. I recall seeing Mario from Mario Kart with a face that only a mother could love: his face had partially melted and then refrozen into a distorted glory of its former self. That poor mustache.
Most notably, the snow festival has an international atmosphere. Naturally, most people are Japanese, but there are a large number of tourists coming from around the world to enjoy the sights. Also, within the snow festival is an international snow creation competition. Countries from around the world build and display their beauties for all to see, which are then judged by a selected committee. The party of snow and ice gazing intensifies with the live shows and delicious foods available. Then the night comes and it gets colder.
Your legs hurt from walking all day, your numb nose feels like it is about to fall off, and you just want to back to the hotel. That is until you realize the winter wonderland transforming into something bigger and grander than during the day. Lights shine upon the larger sculptures, dancing, singing, and musical performances spread cheer through the night. Then a man-made..,mountain? A gigantic slope complete with jump ramps, towered above the crowd. Then I saw two snow boarders flying through the air! There was a snowboard contest in the middle of all these snow sculptures. Life just doesn’t get much better than the Sapporo Snow Festival.