10 Best Japan Snow Festivals in 2024

Japan is magical with consistent snow in winter, making it a wonderful destination to experience a wide range of snow festivals. Whether in Hokkaido or Honshu, you can have a great chance to look for what you like and expect to do during each snow event. The island hosts so many fascinating winter festivals that you may be torn between them. If so, give a favorite to this helpful read. We'll recommend the best ten snow festivals in Japan. I hope you can find your new favorite.

If you're considering to join one of the biggest winter festivals in all of Japan, don't miss the chance to experience the Sapporo Snow Festival, an enormous snow festival recognized worldwide. This fantastic event promises to bring an infinite variety of thrilling enjoyments in a wonderland of snow and ice. Located in Sapporo, Hokkaido, the snow festival dates back to 1950 and is held every year during the first week of February and from February 4 to 11 in 2024. The annual celebration takes place at Odori Park, Susukino, and other venues in the city of Sapporo. The highlight of the festival is the artwork that is delicately shaved from different sizes of ice blocks. There are over 250 ice sculptures in all sizes and forms. You can expect to find surprising depictions of such creations, from popular cartoon and movie characters to vivid animals to worldwide landmarks like the White House and the Eiffel Tower. The interesting snow and ice competition is worth attending for adults. Children can partake in curling, snow slides, and mazes designed especially for them. Each part of the festival has great charm.

There is no reason to refuse this fabulous snow celebration if you head for the northern Honshu region of Japan. The Iwate Snow Festival deserves one of the five "Great Snow Festivals in the Tohoku region. The festival belongs to Koiwai Farm in Shizukuishi Town, Iwate Prefecture, and it is held from January 31 to February 2 for about a week. The bustling event features many highlights: small or giant snow sculpture making, night illumination, fireworks displays, dancing and singing shows, and so on. One of the most fascinating parts is seeing 16 giant decorated ice sculptures about six meters high illuminated by colorful lights at night. There are over 70 kamakura igloo houses and some huge stores built as snow toboggans for the dish "Genghis Khan", a kind of stewed mutton. The Iwate Snow Festival has everything to offer, which gives you multiple enjoyment in Japan's winter.

The image of Hirosaki Castle changes beautifully from season to season. If you've caught its fascination in spring or autumn, you probably can't miss its distinctive attraction in winter. The Snow Lantern Festival held at Hirosaki Castle in Aomori Prefecture will be a big feast. Started in 1977, it is observed on February 9 - 12. During the festival, the main keep of the snow-covered castle is illuminated impressively with about 150 snow lanterns with an icon of a Nebuta warrior and about 300 miniature snow huts lit by candles. This is an iconic sight at the festival. Outside the castle is a huge statue in the shape of a Western-style cloister with a projection mapping exhibit on it and large and medium-sized slides that give participants great pleasure. For family enjoyment, you can join in the sweet experience with kids to launch LED-driven sky lanterns and have a charming view of the lantern-dotted night sky.

The Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival is one of the most anticipated snow celebrations in Hokkaido. You're treated to multiple forms of fascination in this corner of Japan. The festival is located around the highly transparent Lake Shikotsu. Annually, it runs from January 27 - February 25, 2024, for almost a month. There are numerous ice sculptures carved by freezing lake water. These ice sculptures have different faces during the day and at night. With high transparency, the ice sculptures showcase a romantic shade of blue in the daytime. At night, they are lit up with colorful lights, some colossal ice artworks, and a small exhibit of exquisite photographs inside. There are various winter activities to experience during the event. Something entertaining includes ice skating, ice slides, and horse rides. The tamed horse will take you around the ice town, capturing the snow-covered trees and houses along the way. You may see a spectacular display of around 300 fireworks attached to Wadaiko drum performances on weekends and holidays. Food booths on the spot are worthwhile to explore, providing oden, udon noodles, hot soba, and other Japanese delicacies.

Aizu Erosoku Matsuri, widely known as the Aizu Painted Candle Festival, is a traditional festive occasion in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima, held on February 10-11. An Aizu Erosoku is a traditional painted candle in the Aizu area, forming a particular distinguishing feature at the festival. These hand-painted candles, about 10,000 in number, are decorated with pictures of iconic blossoms across the city, such as chrysanthemums, wisteria, and peonies. The well-designed candles, protected by tailor-made bamboo tubes, are set everywhere on the snow-covered grounds of Oyakuen Garden and Tsuruga Castle and illuminate the surrounding buildings, which gives you a shocking view that thousands of bright blossoms seem to sprout up in the snow. You can also craft a candle container with snow in any shape you like. This tradition perpetuated itself for six centuries as a significant way for local families to pay respects to their ancestors. Its impressive crafts and amazement are drawing more and more visitors from all over the world.

In Asahikawa in early February, you can experience Hokkaido's second-largest winter festival, which happens at about the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival. It is held from February 7 to February 12 in 2024. The highlight of the festival is ornate ice sculptures and the massive ice stage. You can see a wide range of snow sculptures at the site. They include world-famous characters in national anime like Totoro, Doraemon, Pikachu, and Astro Boy. In the Heiwa Dori area, there is an exhibit of almost-transparent ice sculptures shaped like elegant horses, cranes and other animal images. The ice and snow sculptures are illuminated at night. Every year a huge ice structure in the form of a fortress is built as a stage for live music and fireworks performances. Besides sculpture viewing, you can experience amazing winter activities such as snowman-making, ice sliding, and snowmobile riding.

The Sounkyo Onsen Hyobaku Festival, renowned as the Sounkyo Onsen Ice Fall Festival, has been a big attraction in Kamikawa-cho, Hokkaido. The festival is famous for its imposing ice waterfall, formed in subzero temperatures in the harsh winter. The 40-year celebration typically runs from around January 28 to February 24. The whole festival features a row of 30 ice sculptures covering around 10,000 square meters, an imposing icefall shrine, a multi-story ice structure with a maze inside, and a 13-meter observation deck. The ice sculptures are illuminated with seven different colors of light, which is a fantastic spectacle to appreciate. What you can experience at the festival includes ice climbing, ice sliding, snow tubing, projection mapping on the ice, and more. The stunning stage performances and fireworks alike add to a festive atmosphere.

Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival deserves absolute approval to be included in a list of the best festivals in Tohoku, northeastern Japan. With a history of over 450 years, the traditional festival brings the winter wonderland seductive colors and magic joys. It is annually held in the city of Yokote, in the southeast corner of Akita Prefecture, for two days from February 15 to 16 in 2024. It can be surprisingly seen that hundreds of miniature Kamakura, igloo-shaped snow houses, are lit up with candles on the ground and the Yokote River. The most visited highlights include a fairy-tale view of the illuminated Yokote Castle at night. You can see a blanket of orderly arranged tiny Kamakura revolving around the castle with the silvery sparkle. You're able to inhabit one of the large snow huts with your children or share with locals, sampling tasty grilled rice cakes (mochi) and warm rice sake (amazake) together.

The Zao Snow Monsters Festival, also named Zao Juhyo Matsuri in Japanese, is a great marvel that is mastered by nature. The freezing winter weather shapes a large area of forests on Mount Zao into wonderful sculptures that have nearly the same size and shape, some looking like giant elephants or dinosaurs and towering pagodas. These nature-made masterpieces are seen as snow monsters, or "juhyo" in Japanese. This magic phenomenon lasts for quite a long time, from mid-December until the end of February. The Snow Festival is hosted at Zao Ski Resort in Yamagata Prefecture February 3-4, the first weekend of the month to mark these snow monsters' birth. The Zao ropeway ride allows you to have the best view of such magic and amazement in the daytime. The ropeway takes you from the foot of Mount Zao to the Jizo Sancho Station, giving you the visual scenery of a silvery-white forest just a few meters below the ropeway or a spectacular panorama. At night, the frosted trees at Jizo Sancho station and the Zao cable car are lit up, giving you a chance to see the fabulous colors of these snow sculptures. You'll also be treated to wonderful fireworks from the slopes. Besides snow monster viewing, you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding at the ski resort if you like.

The Tadami Snow Festival is another big snow celebration hosted in Fukushima on February 10-11 every year. The mountainous geography blesses Tadami Town with an abundance of snow, which contributes to local large-scale snow statues and sculptures. The focus of the celebration is a lot of vivid sculptures created by skilled local rivals in the 20 days before the ice competition. If you visit early, you have the chance to see how sculptors craft their intricate masterpieces in the open air. These ice masterpieces, big and small, are in various shapes, from the magnificent castle to historical monuments to animals like dinosaurs and eagles. As the night closes in, the main sculptures are dramatically lit up with brilliant lights and the magnificent launching of fireworks, creating a gorgeous sight. There is also a fire-cleansing ritual in prayer for good health and fortune. You can enjoy traditional and musical performances, as well as food tastings, during the festival.

No word could describe the fantasy and amazement of these dramatic winter festivals. Only when you have firsthand experience does real enjoyment have lasting value. Each distinctive festival gives you a precious opportunity to immerse yourself in a diversity of stunning spectacles and highlights. Any time is tremendous for your preparation before Japan's winter. Or, it's great for you to travel with Odynovo. We help you organize an individual itinerary according to your requirements and preferences. You'll be offered a variety of impressive snow experiences during your Japan tour.

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