50 things you should know to enjoy the Sapporo Snow Festival even more ~Snow and Ice Sculptures~

Introduction to useful information and tips on the Snow Festival!
It’ll help you have more fun at the Snow Festival!
It’ll make you want to come again!
You’ll want to tell everyone about it!

History of the Snow Festival
How to Enjoy the Festival

17.Snow and Ice Sculptures

Snow is a combination of the Chinese character “雨” (rain) and “ヨ” meaning “broom”, which expresses how the snow sweeps over all things and purifies them as it falls from the sky. Pure white snow is said to make the world clean and beautiful.

18.What kind of snow is used? Is snow removed from the streets used?

Snow sculptures would easily collapse if made from snow containing impurities. Dirty snow absorbs light, making the snow melt. Since safety is most important in building snow sculptures, only pure snow is used.

19.Where does the snow come from?

The snow falling on the sites is not enough to build snow and ice sculptures. Much of it is transported from neighboring parks and golf courses.

Planned locations for collecting snow: Takino Cemetery, Satozuka Cemetery, Makonai Country Club, Sapporo Sato-Land, Moerenuma Park, Tobetsucho Futomi, etc.

20.How far is the snow transported?

The total distance driven by trucks transporting the snow in a year of average snowfall is approximately 190,000 kilometers. When there is very little snowfall, trucks have driven 375,500 kilometers, almost twice the distance of a year with normal snowfall. This is the same as the distance from the earth to the moon and is also equivalent to going 9 times around the earth.

21.How much snow is used?

About 6,000 five-ton trucks carry snow to the sites, which is a total of approximately 30,000 tons of snow.

22.How many days does it take to make snow and ice sculptures?

Approximately 2 weeks to 1 month, starting sometime around January 7th. Visitors can see how the sculptures are created near the sites in the beginning of January.

23.How are the sculptures made?

The snow is piled up, packed and then carved. For details see the special feature here.
Behind-the-scenes information about the creation process of the large snow sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival, Sapporo ‘s most famous winter event

24.Who makes the snow and ice sculptures?

The large snow sculptures are built by the Sapporo City Snow Sculptors’ Group which consists of members of the Ground Self-Defence Forces and volunteers. Medium sized snow sculptures are made by citizens’ groups. Each day some 20 volunteers including cooks and chefs from the Hokkaido Federation of the Japan Ice Sculpture Association spend about 2 weeks working with chainsaws and chisels to create large ice sculptures.

25.Can anyone participate in making snow sculptures?

Since 1987, citizens have been able to participate in building large snow sculptures. That first year, a total of 1,000 citizens participated. Since then, citizens’ groups have contributed to the festival each year, and about 85 sculptures made by citizens’ groups can currently be seen at the Odori site and Tsudome site.
In addition, public recruitment for production teams that wish to participate is conducted every November. Applications are sent to the planning committee and a lottery is held to select the participants. In a typical year, the odds of being selected are 1 in 5 or 6.
The dates and times that applications are accepted and other related information is posted on the Snow Festival official site.

26.What kind of tools are used?

Shovels, machetes and saws, chisels of various sizes for carving details, and scrapers shaped like huge chisels are used. Heavy machinery such as cranes are also used. Scaffoldings are set up for large sculptures, making it look like a construction site.

27.Won’t the snow melt?

Water is sprayed to freeze the snow. If a snow or ice sculpture starts to melt, the sculpture is torn down, even during the festival period.

28.What is the average height and weight of a sculpture?

(1) Large snow sculpture……….height 15m, made by 500 five-ton truckloads of snow
(2) Medium-sized sculpture…..height 10m, made by 300 five-ton truckloads of snow
(3) Small snow sculpture……….height 2m, made by 2 five-ton truckloads of snow
* Height and amounts of snow are approximate figures

29.What is the largest snow sculpture ever created?

“Gulliver, Welcome to Sapporo” in 1972 was the largest sculpture, at a height of 25m, and 1,300 truckloads of snow was used to build it. The large sculpture was introduced to the world together with the Winter Olympics and contributed to attracting worldwide attention to the Sapporo Snow Festival.

30.What happens to the snow and ice sculptures?

The snow and ice sculptures are taken down during the night of the final day of the Snow Festival.
The dynamic and short-lived nature of the sculptures has also captured the hearts of tourists.