The organization has had serious problems making the 200 figures in the sample. For the first time in 70 years, they have turned to cities like Niseko, some 60 kilometers away, to find clean ‘raw material.’

Tens of thousands of tourists come each year to Sapporo, in northern Japan, to see the 200 ice sculptures presented during the Snow Festival. However, the latter was conspicuous by its absence in this year’s edition.

Due to the too mild temperatures this year, the rainfall was not enough and the organizers had to figure out how to build the sculptures despite the enormous shortage of raw materials. The lack of snow is unheard of. We had to bring it from places we had never had to go to before, such as Niseko, a city located about 60 kilometers from Sapporo.

On average, 30,000 tonnes of pristine snow are needed to make the sculptures, representing everything from cartoon characters to famous racehorses. The snow must be clean, pure, without any kind of dirt because the sculptures can break. This year’s exceptionally light snowfall forced several ski resorts in Japan to close their slopes.

What happens in the Sapporo snow festival

The capital of the island of Hokkaido, the amount that fell this year represents less than half the annual average, according to the local observatory of the Japanese National Meteorological Agency. High temperatures caused snow to melt in mid-December, while mercury should remain above average.

This lack of rainfall was a major challenge for the 125 soldiers of the local self-defense forces who build these sculptures each year, some up to 15 meters high.

Not only did we not have enough, but the snow was also full of water, causing the statues to melt quickly. His troops spent about 100 days designing and building a 15×20-meter statue in Warsaw’s Lazienki Palace to mark the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Poland in 2019. “We had to constantly repair the replica of the building. It was difficult to fix the pieces because it was too hot.

For 70 years

The Sapporo Festival has been celebrated for 70 years and is a major tourist attraction in northern Japan. Last year 2.7 million people visited it.

Northern Japanese cities organize snow festivals every year. It would be a shame if these events ended because of too hot weather.

In general, we tend to have more snow. I think this is kind of weird. I have the impression that climate change is materializing.

The main theme of this year’s exhibition, which ends on Tuesday, is the Ainu ethnic minority of Hokkaido, to commemorate the future opening, in April, of the first national museum dedicated to that community, nicknamed Upopoy.

We have never had statues with such powerful Ainu characteristics,” such as a giant ‘but a deity from that culture. Some even asked those same gods for more snowfall.

In mid-January, a ski resort in Hyogo prefecture (southwest) asked a Shinto priest to conduct a ceremony calling for it to snow. So did the organizers of the Yamagata snow festival in northern Japan? It’s not that we don’t have enough snow. It is that we do not have at all. It’s serious. It’s a disaster.

Still, the organizers of the Sapporo festival hope to continue the famous event for future generations. All we can do is pray.

You may also like to read, The Sapporo Snow Festival or Sapporo Yuki Matsuri