Snow festivals are popular events in Japan that both locals and tourists look forward to every year as the illumination of white powder snow enveloping the land creates a stunning scenery. The Sapporo Snow Festival and the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival in Hokkaido are two of the most famous snow festivals, with a huge influx of visitors yearly. However, given that it’s peak season, getting a flight ticket to the northern part of the country and booking hotel reservations can be a daunting task. But not to worry as there are many snow festivals in other areas of Japan that are also worth the visit! Here are six of them.
Celebrate the 14th Yukitouro or Snow Lantern Festival in Kayabuki no Sato, Miyama. Located in the northern part of Kyoto, this preserved village of old thatched roof cottages, similar to Shirakawa-go, will be illuminated from January 27 to February 3, 2018. 500 handmade snow lanterns lighted with candles will be placed along the streets of the village along with 18 old thatched roof houses to give off a warm and comforting atmosphere during this cold season.
The Iwate Snow Festival will be held from February 14 to 18, 2018, at different locations around Iwate, with Iwate Kogen Snow Park being the main venue. The festival will feature various ice sculptures in different forms, shapes, and sizes.
Visitors can also take part in the fun winter activities such as horse sleigh riding and snow train riding. Stalls selling piping hot soup and amazake, a local sweet drink made of fermented rice, will also be available to keep yourself warm in the cold weather.
The Zao Onsen Ski Resort in Yamagata Prefecture is famous for its large ice sculptures that look like snow monsters. These natural wonders are trees covered with thick snow, creating the image of giant beasts living in a cold and freezing climate.
The Zao Snow Monster Festival is held from December 23, 2017, to March 4, 2018. During this event, the snow monsters will be illuminated and a fireworks display will take place on January 20, February 3, and from February 23 to 25, 2018.
Tadami in Fukushima also has its own snow festival. From February 10 to 11, 2018, the place will be adorned with big ice sculptures, which will be lit up at night. Various activities will be prepared such as a ritual for cleansing away bad luck, fireworks, presentation of local arts, live dance and music, and much more.
Hirosaki Castle in Aomori will have its annual snow lantern festival from February 9 to 12, 2018. Apart from the handmade snow lanterns bedecking the place, small igloos known as “kamakura” and ice sculptures of historical designs will also delight visitors.
Yokote City in Akita Prefecture will have its three-day Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival from February 14, 2018. During this festival, numerous kamakura or igloo-shaped houses of various sizes will be scattered around the city.
Inside the kamakura is a small altar to worship the gods with sake (rice wine) and daifuku (rice cake) as offerings. Visitors may be invited by children to go inside and have a taste of the traditional food while interacting with the locals.
To take part in snow festivals in Japan truly makes for an unforgettable experience. And the best thing about these events is that admission is free, so you can come and join the locals in having fun at these winter wonderlands without breaking the bank!