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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Festivals & Events

Sapporo Snow Festival さっぽろ雪まつり

Whitewash—one of the planet’s greatest snow spectacles

Using one of Sapporo’s most abundant natural resources and their imaginations, a few students fashioned several snow sculptures in Odori Park way back in 1950. Fast-forward to today, and the Sapporo Snow Festival is a wintertime extravaganza that draws millions every year. Visit for a taste of Hokkaido hospitality, great food and drink, and stunning illuminations.

Tips

  • Watching the projection mapping shows
  • Going to the Sapporo Big Air event—a ski and snowboard jump contest
  • Listening to live music near Sapporo TV Tower and at other stages around Odori Park

How to Get There

You can reach Odori Park, the primary venue, on foot or by taxi or subway easily from most places within the city.

Odori Park is a 15-minute underground walk south from Sapporo Station or two minutes by subway. Catch either the Nanboku or Toho subway lines and go one stop to Odori Park Station.

Quick Facts

The International Snow Sculpture Contest began in 1974

There are about 400 snow and ice statues at the festival

Soldiers from Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces help with the larger sculptures

When the magic happens

The festival itself runs for a week in early February, but teams from Japan and abroad begin sculpting their creations up to a month beforehand, and the process is almost as magical as the result. Remember to bring some nonslip winter shoes or boots, or buy some strap-on spikes from a convenience store.

Breathtaking scale and numbers

They think big in Sapporo: expect four or five sculptures to be the size of buildings and a host of smaller ones on the west side of Odori Park. Towards the far west end of the park, international snow-sculpting teams from about 20 different nations compete in the festival each year.

Illumination and projection mapping shows light up the night

Be sure to stay around into the night to take in some of the amazing light shows projected right onto the building-sized sculptures. The shows start as soon as it gets dark and run for roughly 5 to 10 minutes each. Large trees are also decorated, and there are sculptures lit up throughout the park.

Other cool ways to have fun

Take some runs down the big snow slides, ride a snow raft or have an epic snowball fight at Tsudome. Later on, have a warm beverage or two at the Susukino venue’s ice bar, and enter the ice sculpture contest there if you’re feeling creative. A camera is a must for this festival, but you can also get a professional photo taken for a fee.

Carving out the competition

You can see lots of beautiful ice sculptures lit up all the way along the middle of the street starting at Susukino Station, and ending up near Nakajima Park. There are also small bars, some made out of ice, for a quick drink as you walk along looking at the sculptures.

Eat, drink and take part of the festival home with you

You can sample local produce, seafood and meats from all around Hokkaido at the festival as well as famous dishes from restaurants. Try the hot mulled wine, and if you get chilled sit in the tents or rooms available near the food stalls to warm up. There are plenty of souvenirs, toys, t-shirts, knick-knacks and postcards at the festival as well.

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