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[2019 Edition] Great for Photos! 5 Japanese Snow Festivals

During the winter in Japan, whimsical winter festivals take place around the country. This article will introduce 5 such Japanese snow festivals that you’re going to want to capture in a photo.

1. Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido)

Sapporo Snow Festival usually takes place in early February, and is centered around Sapporo Odori Park, a symbol of the city. The top attraction of the festival is the large snow and ice sculptures on display at the Odori Site. Their size and the detailed craftsmanship indicate the skill of the sculptors. This year’s festival features an ice sculpture of Yushan and the Kaohsiung Railway Station of Taiwan. Visitors can also enjoy snow slides and snow rafting.

Festival Dates:
Odori and Susukino Sites: February 4 (Mon) - 11 (Mon/National Holiday)
Tsudome Site: January 31 (Thu) - February 11 (Mon/National Holiday)

1. Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido)

7 Odori Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido

2. Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival (Hokkaido)

Sounkyo is a gorge with approximately 24km of sheer cliff walls. Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival usually takes place from late January to mid March, in the severe coldness that even freezes the waterfalls. The ice sculptures are lit up by lights of 7 different colors, creating a whimsical atmosphere. There are many highlights at this festival, including the ice tunnel, ice bar, ice shrine, ice slide, and more. Don’t miss the winter fireworks that are launched every night from 8:30 pm.

Festival Dates: January 25 (Fri) - March 17th (Sun)

2. Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival (Hokkaido)

Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido

3. Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival (Aomori)

Hirosaki Castle is known as a famous spot for viewing cherry blossoms. Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival takes place in early February, when the snow gathered on the trees looks as though they are white cherry blossoms. The scenery is adorned with 200 snow lanterns, along with snow statues and around 300 small igloos. There are many events for children, too, including projection mapping on large snow statues, as well as snow slides. Make sure to check out the firework display that is set to take place on February 9th from 7:00 pm at the Recreation Field of Hirosaki Park.

Festival Dates: February 8 (Fri) - February 11 (Mon/National Holiday)

3. Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival (Aomori)

1 Shimoshirogane-cho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori

4. Ouchijuku Snow Festival (Fukushima)

Ouchijuku was an inn town in the past, and retains the appearance and atmosphere of the olden days of Japan. Ouchijuku Snow Festival takes place annually on the second Saturday and Sunday of February, when the area is covered by a blanket of snow. It is a fantastical festival where the atmospheric townscape is lit up with the warmth of the snow lanterns. With a costume contest where you can immerse yourself in the history of Japan, a dance event, a soba eating competition, and more, there is no shortage of things to see at the festival. Visitors can also enjoy Ouchijuku specialty of wild vegetables and freshwater fish. There is even a firework display on Saturday night.

Festival Dates: February 9 (Sat) - February 10 (Sun)

4. Ouchijuku Snow Festival (Fukushima)

Aza-Yamamoto, Oaza-Ouchi, Shimogo-machi, Minami Aizu-gun, Fukushima

5. Tsunan Snow Festival (Niigata)

Tsunan, one of Japan’s most famous snowy areas. Tsunan Snow Festival is held at the New Greenpia Tsunan ski resort in early March. The sky lanterns of the festival are not to be missed here. Around 2,000 lanterns take to the winter sky, creating a scene straight out of a Disney movie. Various winter events also takes place at the festival, including the making of snowmen and giant igloos. Visitors also have a chance to see SNOWWAVE, a snowboarding competition.

Festival Dates: March 9 (Sat)

5. Tsunan Snow Festival (Niigata)

12300 Akinari, Tsunan-machi, Nakauonuma-gun, Niigata

That wraps up the introduction to 5 festivals where you can experience Japanese winter. If you’re in Japan in the winter, try going a bit further afield and enjoy the snowy attractions that the country has to offer.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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