Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Otaru – Snow Gleaming Festival

Otaru Lights Up the Winter Night
Historic Japanese town’s Snow Festival smaller but no less spectacular than Sapporo’s

Visitors walk along Otaru’s Canal, all lit up

Sapporo’s Yuki Matsuri — Snow Matsuri — may get all of the international press, and rightly so because of its incredible colossal snow sculptures that dwarf visitors, but neighboring Otaru has a snow festival of its own that, while small and humble, shines or rather gleams in its own right. It is known, appropriately enough, as the Snow Gleaming Festival – Yukiakari no Michi.

A message from Otaru’s citizens

In the daytime, Sapporo’s Yuki Matsuri far outshines Otaru’s festival, but at night Otaru puts up some fierce competition in the romantic department. At night Otaru glows from the thousands of candles placed in simple snow structures spread throughout the town, lending it a graceful, magical-like quality.

Snowball modern art

In many ways, Otaru’s Snow Gleaming Festival in its simplicity better represents Japan than does Sapporo’s grandiose Yuki Matsuri. Traditionally, Japanese have often preferred simple austere beauty to that of the grand and ostentatious. The elaborate Toshogu Shrine in Nikko and the dazzling Golden Pavilion in Kyoto are the exceptions, not the rule. The mammoth snow sculptures in Sapporo require weeks and thousands of workers to build. In Otaru, sometimes all that is required is a small hole in the snow and a handmade candle in order to achieve the desired affect.

A Snowman Valentine

Visitors can participate in the festival by purchasing handmade candles and placing them among the many small snow sculptures that dot Otaru.

Among Japanese visitors to both snow festivals, some have the feeling that Sapporo’s Yuki Matsuri dominates the day but Otaru’s Yukiakari no Michi rules the night unquestionably.

A Snow King Kong in Snowy New York

simple but effective

Snow-Fried Chicken, Anyone?

January 28, 2007 - Posted by | entertainment, festival, hokkaido, japan, life, matsuri, otaru, snow, snow festival, snow gleaming, travel, winter, yuki matsuri, yukiakari no michi


  1. :O i want to see Sapporo’s Yuki Matsuri festival now >w<

    Comment by kara | March 2, 2008 | Reply

  2. Wait a sec- I mean Otaru’s Yuki Matsuri XD; though i still do want to go to Sapporo

    Comment by kara | March 2, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] The Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi (a.k.a. Otaru Snow Gleaming) ran from February 9-18, every evening from 5pm-9pm. On February 13th, we headed to Otaru early in the morning with Joe Papa and Michelle. Our primary mission was to ski two days at Tengu Yama. Fresh snow was falling and the conditions were great. We skied for 5 hours on Monday, and returned to Tengu Yama for more on Tuesday after spending the night at our favorite haunt, the Hotel Vibrant. Michelle had only skied lifts once before, and made some great strides over the course of the two days with Em’s tutelage on the beginner slopes up top of Tengu Yama. On Monday night, we were all rewarded after a great day of skiing with a delicious round of kaiten-zushi. After sushi we roamed the Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi. […]

    Pingback by Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi « Elven Space Helmet | August 27, 2010 | Reply

  4. Personally I prefer the Otaru festival to the big one in Sapporo. Theres way too many people at the Sapporo Snow festival. The Otaru one has more of a local feel and being by the canal makes it even more special, and romantic too!

    Comment by ben | December 22, 2011 | Reply

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