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?

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January 28, 2007 Posted by | entertainment, festival, hokkaido, japan, life, matsuri, otaru, snow, snow festival, snow gleaming, travel, winter, yuki matsuri, yukiakari no michi | 4 Comments