Saturday, February 28, 2015

yuki matsuri

We came to Japan for many reasons, but the reason we came in bitter cold February is for the "Yuki Matsuri" Snow Festival. The festival started in the 1950's when some high school students built some over the top snow statues, then later the local military groups joined forces and started building massive snow sculptures. It has become a yearly event with up to 400 snow and ice sculptures and brings in well over a million visitors each year. Even years when accumulated snowfall is low, snow is brought in from outside Sapporo and the festival goes on.
There is a live snow statue competition built by teams from other countries. There is a design or drawing in front of the workspace so you can see what the eventual sculpture will be and it is fun to see the ongoing carving. Sapporo's sister cities are often involved including Munich Germany and Portland Oregon. There were 10 countries competing this year. Apparently Hawaii isn't considered part of the US because there was a Hawaii team and a US team.
The festival is held in Odori Park - a big park one block wide by maybe 10 or 12 blocks long right in the middle of the enormous city of Sapporo. There were sculptures, stages, performances, ski and snow board demonstrations, kiosks for souvenirs and trinkets, food vendors, commercial booths etc etc. Another part of town hosted the ice sculptures and carvings. They are much like you would see at a fancy wedding or bar mitzvah, or on a cruise ship buffet, but larger than life. Many were commercially sponsored and had a product themed design. The third area of the festival was a playground for families and kids. Slides built of snow, mazes for the kids to go through, zip lines, games and again food, food, food. 

These are built larger than life out of compressed snow. Amazing to see during the day, then light shows transform them at night.

Here's what's weird. The population of this entire country wears dark and conservative colors and clothing styles. Everywhere we went, every single day. Then we came to this park geared for families and all their toddlers wore adorable prints and fantastic colors!  At what age do they put these away and vow to wear only black and tan for the rest of their lives?


1 comment:

zerry ht said...

Yeah dear, such events are so much fun and that’s why I decided to throw a small Christmas party for all my family and friends last year. Though we had a tough time finding best event locations in NYC but in the end everything went great!