This festival is one of Japan's largest and most distinctive winter events featuring snow statues and sculptures. As the scale of festival is very large and so many fantastic snow works are displayed, it gathers approximately two million visitors from all over the world.
Recently statues and sculptures are made not only from snow but also from ice and snow works are lit up with beautiful illuminations after getting dark. The name of this winter festival is Sapporo Snow Festival (“Sapporo Yuki Matsuri” in Japanese). Sapporo is a capital city of Hokkaido which is located in the Northern part of Japan. The history of this festival goes back to 1950 when six students from local high school built six snow statues. In 1955 the Japan Self-Defence forces started helping the operation of this festival. Gradually the scale of the festival has been growing.
Currently this festival is held over seven days in February every year. It has become pretty famous and lots of tourists not only from all over Japan but also from foreign countries visit this unique festival every year. Visitors to this festival are excited with approximately 400 snow statues displayed mainly in Odori Park. From year to year, subject of statues varies and it often features an event, famous buildings and even famous athlete such as baseball player who was very successful in the previous year.
The main purpose for holding this festival is promoting international relationship between the city of Sapporo and other countries. This is a very good opportunity for Sapporo city to make propagation whereby the awareness of its name could be remarkably increased. The festival is held at a few different locations in addition to Odori Park which is the main site of this festival. Back in 1983, another site in Susukino was added. In this new site, Susukino Ice Festival is held when Susukino Queen of Ice is elected.This is a female beauty contest that also gathers lots of visitors.
Before and during the festival, so many volunteers help the festival operation. However due to the long dismal economic situation, the number of volunteers and the sponsors providing financial support to this festival is decreasing. As a result the number of displayed snow statues is also decreasing, which has been the recent outstanding problems.
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