An annual snow festival has opened in Sapporo, the

An annual snow festival has opened in Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.

An opening ceremony was held in Odori Park in the city center on Wednesday.

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The festival features 198 snow and ice sculptures. They include
15-meter-high figure skaters and ice hockey players, ahead of the Sochi
Winter Olympics starting this weekend.

Also on display are sculptures of historic buildings in Malaysia and India.

On Wednesday morning, Sapporo had its lowest temperature this winter, at minus 12 degrees Celsius.

The Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival, one of Japan’s largest winter events,
attracts a growing number of visitors from Japan and abroad every year.
Every winter, about two million people come to Sapporo to see a large
number of splendid snow and ice sculptures lining Odori Park, the
grounds at Community Dome Tsudome, and along the main street in
Susukino. For seven days in February, Sapporo is turned into a winter
dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow.

For seven days in February, Sapporo is turned into a winter dreamland of
crystal-like ice and white snow.The Snow Festival began in 1950, with
six snow statues made by local high school students in Odori Park. In
1955, the Self-Defense Force joined in and made a massive snow
sculpture, the kind for which the Snow Festival is now famous for. The
Festival has grown from the humble beginning to become one of the
biggest and most well known winter events.The Snow Festival is
considered to be a festival of international-caliber.

The 65th Sapporo Snow Festival Outline

1. Period of the Festival
For Seven days from February 5 (Wed) to February 11 (Tues /Holiday), 2014

2. Festival sites
– Odori site: Odori park; Nishi 1 chome ~ Nishi 12 chome
– Tsudome site: The Community Dome, Tsudome
– Susukino site: Ekimae-dori (Station Avenue); Minami 4 ~ Minami 6
3. Number of Snow and Ice Sculptures
199 in total: Odori site; 113, Tsudome site; 26, Susukino site; 60

4. Transportation of Snow
The snow for the snow sculptures is to be transported from several
locations in and around Sapporo between January 7 and January 23, 2014.
This includes Takino Cemetery Park, Satozuka Cemetery Park, Sapporo
Satoland, Moerenuma Park and Ishikari Bay New Port. The amount of snow
transported for the festival is equivalent to 6.500 five-ton trucks.

5. Opening Ceremony of Snow Transportation
Date: January 7 (Tues), 2014 10:00 am ~
Venue: HBC Malaysia Square (Odori Park, Nishi 7 chome)

6. Number of Visitors in Recent Years
The 64th Snow Festival (2013): 2.367.000 visitors
The 63rd Snow Festival (2012): 2.054.000 visitors
The 62nd Snow Festival (2011): 2.416.000 visitors
The 61st Snow Festival (2010): 2.433.000 visitors