Sapporo Snow Festival – Part 1: International Sculpture Competition

At present, there is much sport stuff to talk about as AFL’s NAB Challenge Cup starts on 26 February, ICC Cricket World Cup starts on Saturday this weekend, and A-League and EPL are on. But the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival is currently being held until Wednesday, 11 February.

As a Japanese correspondent of the Footy Almanac, reporting about the snow festival is what I am supposed to do, I think, and I hope you will enjoy reading these stories.

Sapporo Snow Festival is a long-running event with its 66th year in 2015. Nowadays, many people from all over the world visit the event.

The Part One of Sapporo Snow Festival Report is about the international sculpture competition, where 12 countries and cities including Australia and New Zealand participated. This year is the 42nd year of this interesting competition.

Actually, I cannot remember about the competition in the old years even in my adulthood. Viewing competition has been my custom since I returned from New Zealand. At the time, I commented on a Kiwi journalist’s blog and she mentioned to me about the snow sculpture competition with a suggestion about going there and saying hi to Kiwis.

Since then, I had not seen Australians until this year. Competitors differ each year.

This year, the following 12 teams participated in the competition:

  1. Australia
  2. Daejeon Metropolitan City (South Korea, Sapporo’s sister city)
  3. Finland
  4. Hawaii
  5. Indonesia
  6. Italy
  7. Malaysia
  8. New Zealand
  9. Poland
  10. Portland (the USA, Sapporo’s sister city)
  11. Singapore
  12. Thailand

These teams started creating sculptures on Wednesday, 4 February. On their first day, I visited the site to have a look at what they were doing.

Each team has sculpture artists – almost all pf teams had only blokes, while the Singapore team had both a woman and two guys, and Australia formed an all-women team.

They were given rectangular blocks of snow and then doing curving works to create sculptures.


Contestants preparing for the Sapporo Snow Festival. (pic: Yoshi Imagawa)

Team New Zealand curving to create a sculpture (pic: Yoshi Imagawa)


Team New Zealand’s two blokes have been team members for five to six years, while it was the first time for another guy. They live in various places within Japan and join the team for fun.

Meanwhile, the Australian women were beginners at doing this work and had grown up in places without snow. They attempted so hard, but their neighbour team, Thailand did very fast.



Team Australia’s hard Work (pic: Yoshi Imagawa)



On that day, I mostly talked to a Kiwi photographer who came to Sapporo for the festival, taking days off from work. She said that sculpture artists were doing jobs between 9 am and 9 pm during the competition. They were working very hard!

Going back to the venue on Saturday morning, I encouraged the Kiwi guys with my all-the-time wish to do the best. I did not see any Australian woman at the time.

Having a look around, the Italy team was curving a Japanese character in kanji. I was impressed with his work where sensitive physical movements were needed.



Team Italy’s impressive work (pic: Yoshi Imagawa)



International teams needed to complete great works by Saturday night.

On Wednesday, the Kiwi photographer suggested me to present at the prize giving away ceremony on Sunday morning. I asked an Italian woman who came to the festival for her job, and she reckoned that the ceremony would be held near the competition site.

Turning up at the site on Sunday morning, I saw a stage nearby, but the board with details showed that no ceremony would be held. Then I found two Australian women and asked them where the ceremony would be held. I was told that it would be four blocks away to the east, so then I headed there.

At the ceremony venue, the audience were mostly media, friends of international teams and foreigners. I guess that many international visitors were interested in the competition.

The ceremony was presented by a Japanese MC with an American interpreter. It started with a brass band formed by Self Defence Army.



Prize Giving Away Ceremony Site (pic: Yoshi Imagawa)



All teams entered the stage and I was excited to hear the results. A speech was made by an organiser in Japanese and then translated into English by the American guy. I heard that Australia had not competed for eight years and the previous participation for Italy had been 35 years ago. New Zealand has been participating for more than 30 times.

Sadly, the weather conditions had not been friendly to sculptures. Some of them had collapsed because of rain on Sunday.

Results were announced with following:

Winner:                     Thailand

Runners-up:            Finland

3rd:                               Daejeon Metropolitan City

4th:                               Poland

5th:                               Italy

I was sad to see Australians or Kiwis getting no prize, but was happy that Kiwis were fulfilled (I had no chance to talk to any Australian after the ceremony).

On the first day, I heard that Team Thailand was participating in various snow sculpture competitions and doing as well as the professionals. I guess that the competition needs to be divided into two parts with beginners and veterans. Seeing Australian and/or Kiwis winning the competition is what I want!



About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. Maddy Smith says

    Good fun again Yoshi

  2. Hi Maddy, thanks for your comment. Have you been to the festival and/or Japan before?

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