How is the weather in Sapporo during the Snow Festival?
It is usually very chilly in Sapporo with occasional heavy snowfall during the Snow Festival. The average temperature in early February in 2015 was -3.2 degrees Celsius (or 26.24 degrees Fahrenheit).
What clothes should I wear to visit the Snow Festival?
You should wear at least three layers of clothes to keep you warm outside. Typically this means: thermal underwear, a sweater and a thick overcoat or a proper winter garment such as ski jacket. A knitted hat or ear-warmers and gloves are also recommended.
Who are making the snow and ice sculptures?
The snow and ice sculptures are made by the special unit of the Self Defense Force, the staff from Sapporo City Hall, local volunteers, the citizen's groups, the people from the private organizations, and teams participating in the International Snow Sculpture Contest.
In particular, the large snow and ice sculptures at Odori site are made by the special unit of the Self Defense Force and an experienced local volunteer group.
I want to know how to make the large snow sculpture.
Please see "How to make a snow sculpture".
How many snow and ice sculptures are there at each site?
There are over 200 snow and ice sculptures all together.
The number of sculptures for each site is as follows:
Odori site: 5 large snow sculptures, 2 large ice sculptures, 15 snow sculptures for the International Snow Sculpture Contest, 110 Citizens' Snow Sculptures (including 3 medium size snow sculptures and 107 small snow sculptures), and 10 other ice sculptures
Susukino site: 60 ice sculptures
*The number of snow and ice sculptures vary each year.
Can anyone participate in making the large snow sculptures for the Snow Festival?
The citizens of Sapporo, including the people from overseas living in Sapporo can participate in making the large snow sculptures. In 1987, when the 38th Snow Festival was held, a total of 1,000 citizens participated in making large snow sculptures for the first time. In recent years, large snow sculpture-making became very popular especially among the families who moved into Sapporo and foreign students. Under the guidance of the experts, this firsthand experience is sure to be a wonderful memory.
I want to work as a volunteer for the Snow Festival. How can I apply?
You can apply for the volunteer work from the official Sapporo Snow Festival website in November. The volunteers are expected to speak and comprehend Japanese at the everyday conversational level.
Can I go to the sites just before the opening of the Snow Festival?
Each site is expected to be very busy with preparation until the last minute, but you can go to Odori site before the opening. On the day before the opening, you will see the site already crowded with people browsing the snow sculptures and enjoying some refreshments at the stalls until late evening. You are able to see a preview of the Odori site as it is expected to be lit up until 10 pm as a lighting test. At the Tsudome site, however, you are not allowed to enter until the opening day. At Susukino site, preparation for the ice sculptures begins three days before the opening and you can get to see the people working on the ice sculptures before the opening.
Can I still see the snow and ice sculptures after the Snow Festival?
No. For safety reasons, all the snow and ice sculptures are destroyed on the next day after the Snow Festival.
What kind of shoes should I wear in winter in Sapporo?
You should wear winter boots or shoes with ribbed soles to prevent slipping on frozen sidewalks. If you do not have any of these, you can use ice cleats (a type of spikes with rubber bands that are attachable under the soles of shoes). They are about 1000 yen per pair and sold at Kiosks in the main JR and subway stations. There are several variations in the way they are mounted, but if you ask for 'Suberidome' (pronounces like 'Soo-berry-dough-may') while pointing at your shoes, the shop assistant should easily understand what you are looking for.
What else do I need?
1. Packets of pocket tissues
It is very cold outside and you may get a runny nose. So, packets of pocket tissues will be very useful.
2. Disposable hand warmers
Air activated disposable hand warmers are very commonly used in Japan. They are very useful to warm your cold hands and easy to use: Open the outer packet first, and then shake the content which looks like a teabag until it begins to emit heat. Finally, just put it in the pocket of your outer garment. Hand warmers can last up to 24 hours. They are about 100 yen each and sold at Kiosks in main JR and subway stations besides pharmacies and department stores.
What are the opening hours of each site?
You can visit Odori site and Susukino site at any time. The snow and ice sculptures are illuminated until 22:00 at Odori site, and until 23:00 (until 22:00 on the last day) at Susukino site. Tsudome Site is open from 9:00 to17:00.
What countries have participated in the International Snow Sculpture Contests?
There were 6 teams participated for the 1st contest. After that, the number of participating teams increased and from the 6th contest (the 30th Snow Festival), a new system was introduced to run the contest. Group A consists of the teams which won the first prize in the past contest, and the other teams compete in Group B first. By the time when the 25th (the 49th Snow Festival) contest was held, 20 teams or 80 people from various regions of the world participated and it became a highly international event. Up until now, 37 countries or regions have participated in the contest including 14 teams from Asia, 11 teams from Europe, 7 teams from North America, 2 teams from South America, and 3 teams from Oceania.
When did the International Snow Sculpture Contest begin?
In 1974, the International Snow Sculpture Contest began as a part of the 25th Snow Festival in order to give the festival more an international flavor and to promote international friendship among nations. The 1st contest was held at Odori 2 chome and 6 teams including Canada, France, South Korea, South Vietnam (present Republic of Vietnam), U.S.A., and Japan participated. Each of the snow sculpture was enjoyed by the number of visitors.
How can we participate in the Citizens' Snow Sculptures event?
First of all, your team has to apply to the executive committee through the official website of the Snow Festival in November. After the application deadline, the participating teams are chosen by the open lottery. In recent years, entry to the event has been highly competitive as one in five or six teams only can qualify. The participating teams have to attend the workshops to learn how to make a good snow sculpture, and each team makes a clay model of the snow sculpture before making the real one in full scale.
*For more information, please visit our website or see the PR magazine, Koho Sapporo.
How can I go to each site by public transportation?
Access to each festival site is as follows:
Odori site: Get off at Odori Station on Subway Nanboku line, Tozai line, or Toho line.
Tsudome site: A 15 minute walk after getting off at Sakaemachi Station on Subway Toho line.
*There are also shuttle bus services from various locations in Sapporo.
Susukino site: Get off at Susukino Station on Subway Nanboku line.