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And Sapporo certainly knows how to put on a Snow Festival!

Way up in the north of Japan about 60 odd years ago, a few bored students thought they’d kill some time sculpting snow.  It was a huge hit and fast forward to today, it’s one of Japan’s biggest festivals, attracting millions of visitors a year.IMG_7736

For a week each year in early February, Sapporo turns into a winter playground as Odori Park in the centre of the city is crammed with snow sculptures, locals, tourists, food outlets and dogs.

A visit to the Festival isn’t just about seeing what fantastical shapes and edifices have been miraculously coaxed out of a heap of snow,IMG_7755

the people watching is fantastic,

Yes, this is grown men and women on a miniature train.

Yes, this is grown men and women on a miniature train.

as is a tour through the food huts,IMG_7326

and spotting the dogs with nappies is a bonus.

Yes, that is a nappy.

Yes, that is a nappy.

For a great overview of the site and the beautiful mountains surrounding the city, head up the tower at the head of the park.IMG_7501

A second site at Tsudome is where you can whizz down snow slides and the Susukino site holds all the ice carvings.IMG_7242

Be prepared for crowds of tourists all trying to cram in front of your photoIMG_7345

so if you can stay awake, it’s worthwhile going back later at night after all the families have gone to bed.IMG_7719

I would thoroughly recommend a trip out to the Sapporo Beer Garden to kill some time where you can grill your meat at the table and buy a never ending stein of Japan’s finest. The setting is also pretty spectacular.IMG_7684

Wiwi’s top tip:

This is the north of Japan in winter, so come prepared for snowy and icy conditionsIMG_7332

and a pair of strap-on ice grips for your shoes is an absolute genius idea and must have saved my bottom at least a dozen times.  These are sold all throughout the city in convenience stores and are an inexpensive way to walk a tad more confidently.IMG_7404

 

 

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