Every early February, Sapporo celebrates the Snow Festival with snow sculptures and lights. It all started oh so many years ago when a couple of students created snow sculptures. This then got the ball rolling into what is now one of the most famous festivals in Japan.
So. There are three sites for the festival:
Odori site – where the snow sculptures are, the light festival, etc.
Susukino site – where the ice sculptures are
Tsudome site – where the snow activities are
Visit Odori site during the night (open until 10pm), Susukino and Tsudome during the day.
Now, after seeing these videos, the pictures will be so boring. But still, I find them adorable.
Japan isn’t really a street food friendly. The thing is, eating while walking is highly frowned upon, though the clean streets make it worth it. So chances are, the only time to eat streetfood is during of the festivals. Another thing about the Japanese? When they decide to do things, they go all out.
Sapporo is Japan’s food heaven. It’s not Osaka (at least for me. :p) What to try?
Ice cream. The soft serve ice cream here is way better than the one in Tokyo. Then again, Hokkaido is apparently famous for their milk.
Ramen. They have a “ramen alley”. I think that’s a pretty good signal of how good their ramen is. I can recommend some, but I only visited two (Sumireya and Teshikaga), and they are really good but not earth shattering good (or maybe I’ve eaten far too much good ramen?)
Streetfood. The stalls at the festival are a must try. They have the almonds coated in chocolate, cinnamon, etc. They have plenty of seafood on a stick (TRY EVERYTHING YOU CAN!)
Pastries. There are these small stalls with small pastries filled with heavenly chocolate, caramel or cheese. It’s like cream puffs, but the size of a thumb and made of pancake-ish shells. The heavenly one was in Sapporo station that I passed when I was lost, and there are some so-so ones in Otaru.
Considering how COLD Otaru was in the peak of winter, I can only stay outside for around two hours, at which point I have to find a place to warm myself up. Where else to go but a place that boasts of the hot chocolate?
Outside the Susukino Station is a street with ice sculptures in the middle. Yes, that’s the Susukino Site of the Sapporo Snow Festival. You’ll be done in about 10 minutes. The street isn’t even blocked, so you’ll have to wait for the cars to stop you take the pictures. It’s close to the Ramen Alley so it’s worthy of a look.
I found Otaru Snow Light Path Festival to be more magical than the Sapporo Snow Festival. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of snow and fire – the lights are not bulb / LED lights. They are from candles. So there’s only one color – white.
The Otaru Snow Light Festival coincides with the Sapporo Snow Festival, so do hit them both at the same time. They are pretty cold though, so that’s also something to consider. Sapporo has three spots to go to (Tsudome, Susukino and Odori) on top of the other regular Sapporo go-to tourist spots. Adding up Otaru will make the trip longer and well, colder.
I’ve got all my tips in the article “Otaru During the Day”, so the items below are merely pictures of the place when I was walking all over the place.