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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sapporo Snow Festival

A band singing old Japanese songs in front of a sculpture showing famous things from Ise Jingu (a shrine in southern Japan).

Every year we have the Sapporo Snow Festival. This year it was apparently the 64th snow festival. It is a one week long event where the Odori Koen park in the middle of the city is filled with snow sculptures. The festival area is about one kilometer in the East-West direction and the park is one city block wide in the North-South direction. Apart from the snow sculptures, you can also buy souvenirs and Japanese festival food.

There are also snowboard and ski competitions in a snow clad jump slope they erect in the festival area, and an international competition were teams from different countries build snow sculptures and compete. There is a Swedish team every year, this year they came 4th. There is also an area for "normal" citizens to build sculptures. This area usually has some very funny ideas, though the overall level of quality is not that great.

Some snow sculptures are huge, tens of meters tall. These are built by the Japanese army (which is called the Japanese self defense forces, since the constitution forbids them from acting outside the borders of Japan, and not considered an army by Japanese people), which is interesting. So for a few weeks before the snow festival, the park is full of soldiers building these sculptures.

A snow replica of a famous building in Thailand.

Happy looking animals in snow.

A small (relatively) building.
A big building.
"Hatsune Miku" is a "vocaloid", a singing software program, that is now a pop star. There are even concerts with Hatsune Miku, despite there being no person only a software program. There is an anime style character associated with Hatsune Miku, though, and she looks like this. The company that makes Hatsune Mike is from Hokkaido.
Another Hatsune Miku. Last year a huge Hatsune Miku statue broke and the very large head fell on top of an old lady tourist and broke her leg or hip. This year there were only small Miku.
Every year there is a tiny steam train that you can ride (if you are a kid).

Another gargantuan snow sculpture
Some people get tired by walking around the very large festival area.
Competition entry
Competition entry
Competition entry
This competition entry looks like the left off before they could finish it...
The Swedish team's entry in the competition
A statue that stands on a 1 meter high podium was now knee deep in snow.
I though this coin machine selling ice bottles was a funny idea.

"The beauty of straight lines"
This is the character "Melon Kuma" ("Melon Bear") of the Yubari city (famous for melons), and unlike most mascots in Japan that are cute, Melon Kuma always looks angry. The little girl was told by her father to roar like Melon Kuma.
There are usually many manga related sculptures (lots of Tottoro every year, for instance) and this one is from the manga One Piece.
A family of snow people making mocchi
One city block of the snow festival contains ice sculptures. Each year there is a theme (animals, for instance). This year it seemed to be fable animals and animals.
Snow foxes made of ice.
A griffin or dragon on the left, and a lizard man (?)
Not sure what this is, actually.
The dragon.
You can borrow skates and go ice skating under the TV tower during the snow festival.
This thing is made out of Christmas lights, so it looks much prettier when it is dark, I guess.
This heart shape also lights up in the evening, for romantic pair photos.
A ski jump thingy built for the snow festival.
Among the ice sculptures there is also a music box with small Japanese girls playing songs.
New this year was the use of projection mapping. This building (which is a replica of a building 150 meters from where I live) was lit up by some projectors hidden in the snow and there was a light show with bears climbing around on the house. It was amazing, I was told by people who had seen it. When I passed by there was an announcement that said: "The projection mapping is too popular, so we have canceled all showings today."... It was too popular so it was cancelled? Strange reason, but it was so popular it became too crowded to be considered safe, so they stopped it after just a few days. Scroll down for a YouTube clip of the projection mapping show.
This snow Audi also had a projection mapping show, that also was amazing. And that I also could not watch...

Here are two YouTube clips of the projection mappings that I could not see live:

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