Sapporo Yuki Matsuri / Snow Festival 2018

The Yuki Matsuri in Sapporo is pretty incredible. I wholeheartedly recommend that anybody who is able to go find a way to visit. Yes, it’s very, very cold – especially when the snow’s falling – but it’s quite the spectacle. The simple idea of getting together (whether as students, a military organisation or as volunteers) to build large snow sculptures is simple but has so much potential for wonderful things on a large scale. I’m extremely pleased to have come and we were lucky with sunny weather (with a few heavy bursts of snow). Here are the pics, starting with ones with my mug in ’em!

The centrepiece this year commemorates the 90th anniversary of Tezuka Osamu’s birth. Great for an animation fan like me! Of course, Atomu (Astro Boy) is front and centre, but Kimba, Black Jack and Sapphire are also impressively-rendered. This building-sized sculpture was pretty impressive to look at, even if some international visitors (like my parents) were a bit nonplussed by something this cutesy being so central.

Another main attraction is the huge promotion for Final Fantasy XIV. It’s amazing how it was made with this maw suspended far out from the main part, and at night it really gets impressive thanks to projection. Here I’m a little concerned something is going to get me.

Hatsune Miku is a big deal in Sapporo, where Crypton are based. She adorns the trams and her music plays in the covered shopping streets. This is also where the Snow Mikus are released each year, and this one was a cute one. Though I may not be fan enough to have signed up for the live event or to join the long queues for merchandise, I was happy to take this pic. Even if it’s really unflattering haha.

There’s an annual competition between countries for the best snow sculpture on a smaller scale. This was Thailand’s entry, and was the winner. It was so much better than all the other sculptures except Macau's (which was also lovely) that it was the only one I wanted to pose in front of – even before the winners were announced. Amazing skill, making me wonder where else this Thai artist can display his expertise.

Plenty of other animation characters featured, including those incorrigible Osomatsus.

But honestly, there were altogether too many minions. I guess they’re very easy to sculpt, what with being just little pill-shaped blobs.

Not the first sculpture anyone sees, nor in any way the best, this nonetheless usefully has 'Sapporo' in it

Mum, and the little kids around, liked Olaf

This baby liked Anpanman. Not sure about the Mario behind!

Another angle of the winning piece

Mainland China's entry wasn't bad (unlike my photography)

Minions make a friend

This Star Wars effort was in what must have been the amateurs' section

Without the label I don't think I'd have known this was Pikachu

Let's go back to the professional sculptures with this superb rendition of the Daikoudou at Yakushi-ji, Nara

A brass band played for us while we were there. Seemed like a recipe for frostbitten lips to me...

the Daikoudou from the front

A more detailed image of the huge Final Fantasy sculpture.

A large rendition of the old Taichung Station in Taiwan...which seemed an odd choice but was nice to see before we head to the country

Another nice large sculpture - of a slightly squashed-down Stockholm Cathedral. I think the statue outside was the most impressive

Little kids love School Idol Project!

Frogs and owls seem extremely popular right now in Japan. No bad thing!

Not sure who this fellow is but he was nicely-sculpted.

Some cute Kemono Friends

One of the best small sculptures, beautifully done

Another pic of Tezuka sculpture without my phizog ruining it

Fishies! This was the impressive Macau entry to the competition. Getting that shape not to collapse is quite a feat

Indonesia's entry was quite well-done too

Here are the winners with their creation!

This one was simply titled Dragonball

Noisy owls

This was a nice mash-up. Jibanyan should totally ride in the nekobus

Snoopy is still popular as ever

I appreciate this one at least trying with the human Despicable Me characters

A more general layout pic of the small sculptures

I feel like I recognise this guy...but don't know why. He's well-sculpted anyhow

The cutesy local TV mascot

And this crazy cute little sheep

There was certainly a commercial element to some of the park, but if the artistry was good it didn't matter so much

On now to the Susukino site for the ice sculptures. Not as amazing as the snow sculptures but still well worth the walk

Best seen at dusk, the ice sculptures are also very impressive but somehow less so than the snow, perhaps because you can see the construction more easily, or perhaps because they're transparent...

Some ice sculptures are still very impressive, with a lot of detail

Ice mermaid

I respect this one for choosing an odder subject than most - a clown with a bird on his foot

Lovely fish

Some look beautifully fragile

Frogs!

Impressive unicorn

There was plenty more to see at night:

The Final Fantasy XIV piece came to life spectacularly, with an epic battle taking place with lots of flame and lightning effects

Naturally, good prevails over evil!

Taichung station looks rather more impressive illuminated

And Stockholm Cathedral got some rather odd little animal shapes

Sadly no projected action for the Astro Boy piece

But the Nara hall got by far the most impressive light show

Colourful!

And appropriately, plenty of Buddhist imagery

       

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