On our way to our accommodation from the airport, our cab drove through Susukino to reveal a row of illuminated ice sculpture. That was our prelude to the Yuki Matsui, internationally known as Sapporo’s Snow Festival. For seven days every February, Japan’s largest winter event is turned into a winter wonderland of snow stations and ice sculptures.
From a few snow statues created by high school students on its main site, Odori Park in 1950, the festival is now an event visited by millions. Packed with people walking the slippery path that spans the 1.5km Odori Park showcasing spectacular snow and ice sculptures of different size and shapes from local and international participants.
We came across humongous structures such as the Arc de Triumph sculpture and the Taipei Guest House.
Some serve as a stage for concerts and other performances.
This giant Cup Noodle that double as a slide is a favorite,
Star War characters R2D2, C3PO and Darth Vader and other cartoon characters make up the fun stuff.
Meanwhile, I am drawn to the smell and the sizzle of beef being grilled on an open barbecue pit, even if we just came from lunch.
Not to be left out are the food stalls of various kinds. A piece of advice to future attendees, skip lunch that day and head straight to the park.
The row of illuminated ice sculptures that I saw the night before is less dramatic in daylight.
Packed with bars, restaurants, pachinko and red light establishments, Susukino really comes alive upon sundown and so does its displays found on its main street. We weaved through the sculptures into Ramen Alley for lunch.
The alley has 17 old style ramen shops to choose from. In a shop randomly selected to fit all 7 of us, we slurped down a bowl of noodles in miso broth topped with seaweed, spring onions, char sou pork, hard-boiled egg, corn and a slice of butter—unique ingredients that make Sapporo’s Ramen worth a try.
The third venue is a multipurpose dome where a variety of events take place inside. Outside the dome is where the fun is. Large snow slides and a snow rafting area is set up for the merriment of people of all ages. Sadly, as the venue is a little away from the city center and is only open until 6 pm.
Odori Park: Odori-nishi 1-chome to 12-chome, Chuo-ku
Susukino Venue: Ekimae-dori from Minami 4-Jo to Minami 7-Jo, Chou-ku
Tsudome: Sapporo Sports Facility “Tsudome” Sakaemachi 885-1, Higashi-ku