Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival is an annual event where large sculptures made from snow and ice are displayed in the city, mostly Oodori Park. A lot (if not all) sculptures are sponsored which makes it completely free to visit. Yay!

snow festival

Bigger than life-size

It’s one of the largest events in Sapporo (if not the largest) attracting around two million visitors each year. (Sapporo has two million inhabitants.)

snow festival

Loads of people on snowboards showing off their snowboard skills

We went there with the school on the opening day and it was really cold. So I only had a look at half of Oodori Park, went home, had some hot chocolate and cookies. But the sculptures were quite impressive and they’re probably even more so at night when the lights are on. As you can see here.

snow festival

Traditional decoration for an upcoming holiday
(just that usually it’s made from something other than ice ;)

Walking Sapporo

Walking Sapporo: Nanboku Line

It’s Saturday, it’s freezing, I could stay in bed the whole day. Why not go for a walk? So I got up early to use as much of the few hours of wintery daylight as possible.

phone boxes

Don’t worry if you’re without a phone in Japan, phone boxes aren’t too uncommon.

Sapporo has three subway lines, one of them being the Nanboku line, which translates to South-North. You guess how it runs. According to Wikipedia the largest section was opened on December 16th 1971, the remaining northern section following on March 16th 1978. It’s 14.3km long and has 16 stations. The southern part is above ground.

For your entertainment I’ve created a map and marked my way, places where I’ve taken pictures, videos or that are in any other way of interest. There’s street view available all the way I think. (You’ll have to open it in another tab ‘though, it doesn’t work with custom maps, as far as I know.) But it may not be 100% accurate. Anyway I’d recommend you open that and follow along over there. Here it is!


Small arcade under the ‘sub’way tunnel

I started at the Southern end, Makomanai station. And then I walked. At the beginning it was nice and easy to just follow the above ground tunnel which is also used to cover car parks or old subway carriages. The houses were a bit smaller than in the city center and there was a bit less traffic, as you should expect. Every few blocks there was a small park/playground covered in snow. After a while of heavy snow the sun came out for a bit. I went into a small second-hand bookstore and actually found a book that had furigana (haven’t read it yet, though).


On a bridge crossing Toyohira River

Almost halfway I had to cross Toyohira River, in the native Ainu language called Sapporo Pet and gave the name to the city.

time in the park

In Nakajima Park

After that I came to Nakajima Park where people can play golf during summer and ski during winter. It also includes the Hokkaido Museum of literature, a small lake and many other things.


Not sure whether the stuff in front of the museum was art or trash…

Approaching the city center, houses got bigger, traffic and people more, family homes turned into shops and sidewalks from white to black.

the fox sais

Now you know

In most parts of the town sidewalks are covered with 20cm of solid snow and ice, then (depending on when it last snowed) 30cm more centimeters of fresh snow with only a small path being trampled down making it pretty much impossible to walk past someone else without getting wet feet (unless you wear rubber boots). On top of that there’s a 1-3m high mountain of snow between the sidewalk and street, pushed there by the snow ploughs or house owners who actually clear their sidewalks. Needless to say those mountains narrow the remaining space quite a bit more.

Some buildings have a private road heating system ‘though it’s rare. But in the city centre it’s everywhere and it’s really convenient. ‘Though you could argue that it’s the least necessary there because of the underground network.


Maybe a restaurant?

I’ve probably mentioned Tanuki Koji before, it’s a roofed shopping street. There are at least five second-hand clothing shops in one of which I bought a new backpack. I also had some cold soba noodles there and they even had root beer! If you go though Tanuki Koji with street view you’ll see that ‘through the first six blocks it looks really nice but TK7 seems kind of abandoned with its corrugated metal roof and mostly closed shops. That’s the part where the restaurant I ate at is and everything else isn’t really shut down either. I really like the contrast ‘though.

Then I came through Oodori Park where preparations for the annual Snow Festival had already started. (By the way, I’m late with writing this. I went about a month ago, Snow Festival is this week. Hopefully won’t take me as long to upload that post. Sorry.)

TV Tower at Oodori Park

TV Tower at Oodori Park displaying the time

When I reached Sapporo Station I decided to go to one of the department stores ‘cause there’s a relatively big book store. And they had English books! Not just books, actual novels! Smiling Rice is smiling.

Sapporo Station

In front of Sapporo Station

Then the buildings started getting smaller and the piles of snow bigger again. I found a small Oriental shop which had lentils and an owner who speaks English. Both hard to find. It started getting dark and I reached Asabu station at around six o’clock.

My hands were falling off from the cold, I was hungry and tired but it was a day which brought me two books, root beer, lentils and parts of the town I haven’t seen before. So all in all a good one.

Also took some motion picture which you can enjoy here. In two parts and sorry for the shitty editing, I was trying out a new program which either sucks or I’m too stupid to use it.