Note: Any and all descriptions of sculptures and activities are for 2009. The sculptures are guaranteed to change, and some of the activities may also change. It’s best to check just prior to going.
10-chome saw a return of large sculptures. The first was a medium sized zoo. It featured various animals that could be seen in Asahikawa. They called it the Snow Festival Zoo, but in reality, it was almost an exact copy of the animals in Asahiyama Zoo. However, it was a nice sculpture. The main attraction has to be the Northern Animal Families. This was sponsored by STV (Sapporo Television). This sculpture featured three families, the Blakiston’s fish owl; the Steller’s Sea eagle; and the Ito (a type of salmon). Unfortunately, the bird’s beauty and size overshadowed the fish, and I doubt many people recognized them. I really enjoyed this sculpture and I feel it was the most beautiful large sculpture of the entire festival.
11-chome and 12-chome could be rolled into one block. 11-chome had an “International Gourmet Corner” and the 36th International Snow Sculpture Contest. They had 12 entries from 12 countries. Thailand’s “Garuda and Naga” won the competition with Lithuania’s “GLOVE” coming in second. I agree with the winner being “Garuda and Naga”, however, I didn’t like “GLOVE”, but it was artistically pleasing compared to the others. In 12-chome, you will be able to see various different sculptures made by volunteers and locals alike. They tend to be simple and feature a lot of characters that are well known in Japan. By the time you reach this area, you will be tired of sculptures and in need of a break. I would, however, advise against going to this area at night as there aren’t enough lights to truly show these sculptures.
After you finish with Odori Park, Sapporo Dome offers something for everyone. Outside the dome, you can do various activities such as snow rafting and tube slides. You can also build your own snowman and make your own skis. There are a few places to get a good beer and food and various other sculptures. Inside the dome, you can enjoy the Snow Market, eco advertising, and various other corporate booths promoting various things. I never made it to this area as it’s focused towards families rather than single adults, so I never even thought about heading to this spot. If you have children, I would definitely recommend this place as it looks like a lot of fun.
The final place to visit during the Snow Festival is the Susukino Ice Festival. The ice festival is 6 blocks of small ice sculptures. The entrance had a sculpture of Hokkaido’s famous clock tower. From there, you will be greeted by various peacocks, angels, and everything you can think of. Some notable sculptures were a few bars promoting the different Japanese drinks such as Sapporo Classic (beer), and Suntory Whiskey. While I never visited this site during the day, I’d highly recommend visiting at night as the sculptures look extremely beautiful under the street lights.
My final impression was that this is definitely a festival to visit. I think it’s beautiful and very impressive. Aside from the people and the cold, it’s great to go north and see the beautiful snow. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do everything that I wanted to do. That’s the problem with visiting and not living in this beautiful city. If you do go, try to visit the festival, both in the day and at night. You will see different sides of this festival. Unfortunately, after a few hours, you will be sick and tired of all the snow sculptures and everything will start to look the same. Dress very warm and do as much as you can in the short time you have at the festival.
Sapporo Snow Festival (English): http://www.snowfes.com/english/place/index.html
Sapporo Snow Festival (Japanese): http://www.snowfes.com/
Sapporo Snow Festival (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapporo_Snow_Festival