JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.73


Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival

Every year the City of Sapporo in Hokkaido plays host to the Sapporo Snow Festival, which lasts for approx. two weeks at the beginning of February. More than two million visitors from Japan and abroad are drawn to this event. This festival features a large number of snow and ice sculptures created and displayed across a wide area of the city including Sapporo Odori Park in the downtown. The origin of the Sapporo Snow Festival can be traced back to 1950 when local middle school and high school students from five schools created six snow sculptures using the leftover snow found around Sapporo. This gesture brought great joy to the people of the city. Since then, the festival has become an integral civic event that takes place every winter. Today, more than 200 sculptures are created for the festival.

Since 1974 the festival has also hosted an international snow sculpture contest to foster international friendship, which has helped to boost its popularity. In some years around 20 teams from outside of Japan come to Sapporo to compete.

The GSDF has been assisting with the creation of snow sculptures since 1955 and their highly skilled and accurate snow sculptures are always a popular draw among the crowds. The GSDF uses a unique technique called the “ice block method” where blocks of ice and snow are attached to form the base/body and then fine details are added to create graceful patterns and a pure white sculpture.

The GSDF 11th Brigade (11th Field Artillery Unit, 11th Reconnaissance Unit, and 11th Antiaircraft Artillery Company) assisted once again in 2016 by creating an installation of the popular manga under the theme “Invasion of Shingeki no Kyojin into Sapporo! (Invasion of Attack on Titan into Sapporo!),” while the GSDF Northern Army Signal Group created an installation called “The Ruins of St. Paul's, Macau,” which both drew large crowds.

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