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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

Snowed in? Carve Yourself Out
By:Josh Shulman

A snowy white wonderland may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Japan travel (perhaps except the snowy peak of Mt. Fuji). The less-visited northern island of Hokkaido, however, proudly hosts the annual Sapporo Snow Festival of Japan. The festival takes place in the city of Sapporo on the first week of February every year. The event is one of the largest snow festivals and is famous around the world for its ice sculpture competition. Every year, thousands of artists visit Sapporo to flaunt their skills in an attempt to win valuable prizes. Top notch artists participate in the event, so you can expect to see some of the most elaborate artworks made entirely of snow and ice. The artistic snow sculptures are so large and complex that many of them are constructed with the assistance of the military.

The Sapporo Snow Festival is among the largest winter events in Japan. There are several foreign teams that come to Japan to participate as well. The Japanese therefore considered it a great way to improve international relations. Around two million people come to enjoy distinctive ice sculptures and artworks made from ice and snow. Every year, the event has a new theme or several subjects. Usually the the theme is based upon a famous building or person who sparked sensation in the previous year.

These events take place in several regions within Sapporo. Satoland (or Satorando in Japanese pronunciation) is the first region of Sapporo where the festival is held. It was first added in 2006 to the list. Satoland is the only site which is not located in the central part of the city. Besides admiring the ice sculptures there, you can also enjoy a ride in a hot air balloon. Odori Koen is another area where you can take part in the magical happenings of the Sapporo Snow Festival. It is practically a huge playground in the central part of the city. Susukino is the nightlife area of Sapporo and also hosts the festival. It's recommended to go visit Susukino on the first day of the festival to witness the sculptures being carved with power tools such as chainsaws.

Josh Shulman, Author of "All-You-Can Japan: Getting the Most Bang For Your Yen" http://www.allyoucanjapan.com

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