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Ōkura Snow Story, Yamagata

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Ōkura Snow Story, Yamagata

 

Meet the giant Ōkura-kun snowman at this unique winter festival

Ohkura- Village Tourism Association

 

 

Ōkura Village, in Yamagata Prefecture, Tohoku, is renowned for receiving some of the heaviest snowfalls in all of Japan. Its annual winter snowfall typically exceeds three meters, with the heaviest annual snowfall recorded in 2018 at 445cm.

 

It’s no wonder then that Ōkura residents know how to make the most of the snow. In the secluded hamlet of Hijiori Onsen – in addition to a celebrated snow-shovelling contest – one of the highlights of the seasonal calendar is the winter firework festival, Ōkura Snow Story (known locally as Ōkura Yuki Monogatari).

 

Ōkura Snow Story features a jumbo snow slide, sledding and other winter attractions, but the star of the event, which attracts many domestic and international visitors, is the giant festival snowman, known as Ōkura-kun. And by giant, we mean giant: the 1995 Ōkura-kun was a super-sized 29 meters tall, earning it a Guinness World Record. Every year, Ōkura-kun’s height is hotly anticipated, and the most recent (27th) Ōkura-kun, measured 11.4 meters high – with villagers hoping to top that at the next festival.

 

As well as marvelling at the giant snowman, festivalgoers can browse traditional yattai stalls selling hot snacks and drinks. The close of the festival is marked with a spectacular fireworks display in the crisp, clear skies above the village, with colours and lights illuminating the glistening snow and smiling Ōkura-kun. Ōkura Snow Story is held annually in mid to late March, at the end of Yamagata’s famed snow festival season, making it the last one before spring.

 

How to get there

 

1 hour by bus from JR Shinjō Station or 75 minutes by car from Yamagata Airport.

 

 

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