Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival (Part 1)

Sapporo Snow Festival 2011
This was probably my favorite!

I want to go back!  It's so beautiful up there!

The Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival is one of Japan's largest winter event every year.  Over two million people come to Sapporo to see the hundreds of beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures which line Odori Park and another main street in Susukino.  The city is turned into a winder dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow!  The Snow Festival began in 1950, when local high school students built a few statues in Odori Park.  In 1955, the Self-Defence Force joined in and built the very first massive snow sculpture, for which the festival has become famous for now.  The festival is a must do especially if you are ever stationed in Japan!

There were a lot of sculptures modeled
after American movies
It wouldn't be a trip for Amanda and I if something didn't go wrong.  We made sure to leave ample enough time to make it to the airport, but the train took a little longer than we expected (especially since we went a few stops in the wrong direction after a connection), and then we arrived at the wrong domestic terminal.  Luckily, security was not like the states and we were through to the gate in 5 minutes.  Another weird thing was that we never once showed an ID/passport and we were able to walk on the plane with an open beer can!  Crazy!

note to self:  DO NOT watch the Superbowl
with Packer fans!  Boo!
Tim, Amanda, Kristin, and I
Our first mission when we arrived in Sapporo was to get to a bar so we could watch the end of the Superbowl since it was Superbowl "Monday".  Out of all the bars we could go to Hokkaido, we end up walking into the same packed bar that some of my friends were at.  Sadly I had to watch the Packers win the Superbowl with the only two Packer fans in the bar... Tim and Kristin.

Hiunkaku Of Hongwanji, a national treasure in Kyoto

After the game, we walked around the snow festival checking out all the amazing snow sculptures!  I couldn't get over all the detail and time put into some of these!  One of the main giant snow sculptures was modeled after the Hiunkaku of Hongwanji temple in Kyoto.  The Ground Self-Defense Force (about 4,500 people total) built this together for 31 days.  The sculpture was 15x24x24 meters (it was huge!) using over 4000 tons of snow!  The pictures don't do it justice!  There were a few other big sculptures modeled after a temple in China, The Lion King, Japanese cartoons, and scenery of Japan.  
view from the top of the Sapporo TV tower
of Odori Park and the mountains in the

The ice festival was a few blocks away on another main street in Sapporo.  There were hundreds of ice sculptures and even an ice slide lining the street all lit up at night.  I still can't decide which I like better, the ice or snow sculptures.  They were all very impressive!  We were able to get a great view of Sapporo and the whole festival from the observation deck of Sapporo TV tower (they tried to copy the Eiffel Tower).  I think next trip to Hokkaido will be to go skiing  where the Olympics took place.  If we were up there just one more day I would have liked to check out the mountains, but our trip was only two days.  

Mr Potato Head!!

We were there on the 1st day of the festival, so the international
competition was still going on with the sculptures hard at work.
Chinese temple (I think it's in Beijing, but not sure)
They were so beautiful at night with all the lights!
Sapporo loves their beer!  (and so do I)

yes, those are real fish in the ice!  So cool!
Japanese boy band rockin' out on an ice stage!

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