Hokkaido is famous for its winter ice festivals, amazing fresh seafood, and pristine ski and snowboarding resorts, but did you know that it has its own village completely made of ice? Welcome to Shikaribetsuko Kotan – Japan’s only ice village!
This festival is the brainchild of locals who wanted to take advantage of the beauty of the winter weather and the gorgeous vistas that lake Shikaribetsu offers. And, it has been ongoing for over 35 years! Located inside one of the last pristine untouched areas of nature in Daisetsuzan National Park, it is quite a sight to behold. The lake itself freezes over in winter, providing natural building blocks for the village itself. There is definitely something for everyone here. From igloo houses, complete with seats and ice beds, to an ice bar, and there is even a glorious ice chapel! Because the entire complex is made out of ice and snow, it is only around for a limited time as the beautiful structures melt away in the spring.
The piece de resistance by far is the ice onsen! It’s a communal bathing area in the day time where everyone can experience the glory of nature in a warm hot tub. At night, however, the area is separated by gender. There is nothing like being able to stargaze in your own onsen! There are also activities for everyone young and old, some even hands-on, including ice sculpting, snow sports, nature walks. Or, if you like, you can even spend the night in the ice igloo itself! There is nothing like being immersed in nature and its surrounding beauty.
The event is magical and only for a short period of time given the conditions. The event starts on January 28th and lasts until March 21st, 2016. If in the area definitely check it out. For the link for the ice village along with events in the surrounding area, please feel free to check this website. You won’t regret it!