Sapporo Snow Festival
Sapporo is the largest City in northern Japan, situated on the northernmost island of Hokkaido. In winter it has a reputation for being nadger-freezingly cold, and indeed as me, my brother, an Irish vagrant we had picked up, and my ever reliable Mazda, drove off the ferry into the dark Hokkaidan night, it was pretty damn chilly. If one chose to, exposing one nipples to the outdoor temperature would have created chesticles you could chop carrots with. We ploughed on through temperatures of minus seventeen towards Sapporo, eventually arriving at our hotel shortly after dawn. The temperature was now a tropical minus eight, as we parked up and took the short walk from our Hotel towards Odori Park, the biggest of three areas that host the Sapporo Snow Festival.
The artistry that goes into creating these monoliths of ice is nothing short of jaw dropping. Around 12 of the sculptures towered over the crowds at 25 feet high or more. A depiction of japanese athletes advertised Tokyo’s 2016 Olympic Bid, opposite an even more impressive and intricately detailed tribute to Tokyo Disneyland’s 25th anniversary. Japanese Castles and Korean temples were present, as well as multiple depictions of Japanese cartoon characters. There were whales and turtles made from transparent ice, and the lack of early morning crowds made it all the more enjoyable. Later we ventured into the Susukino part of the festival, in an area of town famous for it’s nightlife (and bizarelly prominent brothel “menus”). Here were smaller statues that were no less impressive, being close enough to touch meant you could see every tiny detail perfectly.