Hokkaido events, Otaru, Sapporo, Hokkaido nightlife

Top 5 Must-See Events in Hokkaido February 2018 (w/Photos)

We would like to introduce events that are unique to Hokkaido, where temperatures plunge below zero and snow mounds high. In Hokkaido, visitors can go see ice statues made from the plentiful snow or revel in beautiful installations featuring snow and candles. Alternatively, visitors can soak in hot springs, born from the bountiful nature of Hokkaido, or take part in traditional festivals. There are numerous events organized and run by local volunteers; take this opportunity to experience the hospitality of the local residents and experience winter in Hokkaido to the fullest.

1. Otaru Yukiakari-no-Michi      February 9, 2018 through February 18, 2018

Otaru Yukiakari-no-Michi is a festival of snow and candles hosted in the historic port town of Otaru. The historic and picturesque town of Otaru will be lit up with 120,000 candles. Additionally, the town will be decorated with sculptures and candle holders, all made by the town volunteers. At this event, visitors can expect to encounter a fantastical atmosphere.

An opening ceremony will be held on the opening day at the Tenguyama events space. Skiers hurtling down with a torch in hand and fireworks are some highlights of the ceremony. Take the cable car up to the mountain peak and visitors will be treated to spectacular nighttime views, which is said to be among the top three views in Hokkaido.

There are two main event spaces: Temiyasen events space, a former rail track, and Unga (canal) events space, the iconic canal of Otaru. At the Otaru canal, spherical candle holders made of glass will be floated on the water. The secondary event space, which is the Asarigawa events space, will also host a similar illumination event, whereby candles will be set up near the Asarigawa riverbed to light up the surrounding river and snow. Attend this event and see a special collaboration between snow and candle light.

Schedule

February 3 (Fri.), 2018 through February 12 (Sun.), 2018  PM5:00〜PM9:00

Opening ceremony at Tenguyama event space on February 3 (Fri.). Starting time is yet to be announced

Access and Address

Otaru station on JR Hakodate Main Line

Temiyasen Venue: 8-minute walk

Unga (Canal) Venue: 12-minute walk

1-7-1 Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido

Admission and Reservation Policy

Free and reservations are not required

Official Website

http://yukiakarinomichi.org/

3. Obihiro Ice Festival      February 2, 2018 through February 4, 2018

source: northtokachi-travel

The Obihiro Ice Festival showcases beautiful ice and snow statues. An ice tower welcomes visitors at the festival entrance.

The highlight of the festival is the collection of 30 ice and snow statues. Mini-contests for ice statues made by adults and kids will also be held at the venue. There are other free attractions: a spinning sled, an ice statue slide, and a snow field, which are popular amongst kids. Visitors can also try their hand at curling and snow soccer on the day. At night, the statues will be lit up and there will be fireworks. The event will also have a food section, where visitors can sample the delicacies of Tokachi (region in Hokkaido). There will be plenty of attractions for adults and kids alike.

Schedule

February 2 (Fri.), 2018 and February 3 (Sat.), 2018                        AM10:00~PM8:00

February 4 (Sun.), 2018                     AM10:00~PM6:00

Access and Address

Entire Midarigaoka park area in Obihiro

10-minute shuttle bus ride or 25-minute walk from Obihiro station on JR Hakodate Main Line

38-minute bus ride from Obihiro airport

2 hours and 52 minutes on the JR Hakodate Main Line Limited Express from JR Sapporo station

2 Midorigaoka, Obihiro-shi, Hokkaido Prefecture

Admission and Reservation Policy

Free and reservations are not required. Note that some attractions may require a fee.

Official Website

http://obihiro-icefes.com/

4. Noborito Onsen Festival         February 3, 2018 and February 4, 2018

source: jaf

Noborito is one of the most famous hot spring areas in Japan; it is blessed with high water volume and 9 varieties of water types. The traditional festival is held to show gratitude for the hot springs and pray for good fortunes for the town, residents, and travelers. The festival is held over two days on February 3rd (known as setsubun) and February 4th (risshun).

Setsubun is the inflection point of winter and spring and legend says that bad spirits emerge during this time. To dispel the bad spirits, the hot spring god or Yukijin appears from the spring source, known as Jigokudani, and parades the town. Traditional dance performances called Yukijin Kagura and Kodakara Mochitsuki-mai will be performed at the Sengen Park.

One highlight is the hot water fight that is held on the second day of the festival. About 100 young men, wearing only a loincloth in the freezing cold, will divide into two teams (red and white) and throw hot water at each other using wooden buckets. If the red team wins, the water temperature is said to rise, while if the white team wins, the water volume will increase.

This event will allow visitors to have fun, while experiencing traditional Japanese culture.

Schedule

February 3 (Fri.), 2018           PM1:00~PM10:30

PM1:00~PM3:00 Visit to Karurusu hot spring (Karurusu hot spring)

PM6:00~ Water drawing and hot spring ritual (Sengen park)

PM6:30~ Ema Shoten bonfire (Sengen park)

PM7:00~PM9:00 Yukijin parade (Noboribetsu onsen town, hotel, ryokan, and shops)

PM9:00~PM9:30 Traditional dance (Yukijin Kagura and Kodakara Mochitsuki-mai) and serving of sweet sake and mochi (Sengen park)

PM9:30~PM10:30 Yukijin traditional dance performance (Noboribetsu hot spring town and restaurants around town)

February 4 (Sat.), 2018          PM6:00~PM9:30

PM6:00~PM8:10 Yukijin parade (Hotels and ryokans)

PM8:30~PM9:00 Traditional dance (Yukijin Kagura and Kodakara Mochitsuki-mai) and serving of sweet sake and mochi (Sengen park)

PM9:10~PM9:30 Hot water fight (Sengen park)

Access and Address

Sengen park, Noboribetsu onsen-cho, Noboribetsu-shi / entire Noboribetsu onsen area

Immediately by Noboribetsu Onsen stop on the Donan bus

15-minute bus ride on Donan bus towards Noboribetsu onsen from Noboribetsu station on JR Chitose Line

59-minute train ride on JR Chitose Line Limited Express from Shin-Chitose Airport

Noboribetsuonsen-cho, Noboribetsu-shi, Hokkaido Prefecture

Admission and Reservation Policy

Free and reservations are not required

Official Website

http://www.noboribetsu-spa.jp/?events=yumatsuri

5. Sapporo Snow Festival February 1, 2018 through February 12, 2018

A winter event of the largest scale in Hokkaido. The festival will showcase 200 pieces of snow statues made with pristine snow and gleaming ice statues. There will be three venues each with a slightly different flavor.

The Odori event space stretches over 1.5 kilometers and will display 100 ice and snow statues. The highlight will be a humongous snow statue, measuring more than 10 meters tall. Despite its size, the statue will showcase intricate details and will be an impressive sight. At night, the snow and ice statues will be lit up and a projection mapping show will be held. Each area will have a unique exhibit and visitors can try Hokkaido cuisine at the event.

At the Susukino event space, 60 ice statues will be on display. Visitors can not only look, but also touch the exhibits at the “Fureai Hiroba”. The statues at the Susukino venue will also be lit up at night and a photo spot called the “Illumination Road” will be set up. Visitors can purchase hot drinks at the ice bar.

Finally, the Tsudome venue will feature various experiential attractions like slides made of snow and ice and a maze made with snowmen. Adults and kids alike will enjoy the attractions on show.

Schedule

Tsudome Venue

February 1 (Thurs.), 2018 through February 12 (Mon.), 2018                    9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Note that some attractions close at 4:00 PM)

Odori Venue

February 5 (Mon.), 2018 through February 12 (Mon.), 2018                       open all hours but illuminations are only on until 10:00 PM

Susukino Venue (Susukino Ice World 2018)

February 5 (Mon.), 2018 through February 12 (Mon.), 2018                       open all hours but illuminations are only on until 11:00 PM and 10:00 PM on the 12th (Mon.)

Access and Address

Odori Venue

Location: Odori Park Nishi 1-chome to 12-chome

Closest station: Immediately by Odori station on Tozai Subway Line, Nanboku Line, Toho Line

10 minutes on train and foot from JR Sapporo station

50 minutes on train from Shin-Chitose Airport station

Susukino Venue

Location: Ekimae-dori or road running along Nishi 4-chome from Minami 4-jo dori to Minami 7-jo dori

Closest station: Immediately by Susukino station on Nanboku Subway Line

10 minutes by foot and train from JR Sapporo station

50 minutes by train from Shin-Chitose Airport station

Tsudome Venue

Location: Sapporo City Sports Facility, Community Dome

Closest station: 15-minute walk from Sakae-machi station Exit 2 on Toho Subway Line (shuttle buses are scheduled to run on the day)

20 minutes by train and foot from JR Sapporo station

1 hour by train from Shin-Chitose Airport station

Odori Venue

7-chome Odori-nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido Prefecture

Susukino Venue

4-chome Minami 1-jo nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido Prefecture

Tsudome Venue

885-1 Sakae-machi, Higashi-ku, Sapporo-shi

Admission and Reservation Policy

Free and reservations are not required

Official Website

http://www.snowfes.com/

If this got you interested in experiencing deep local culture first hand, we, MagicalTrip provide unique night tours with a friendly local guide in Japan. You’ll get to go to local Izakaya bars to enjoy authentic food and drinks, why don’t you give MagicalTrip’s Bar Hopping Food Tours.

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About Shoto Hachiya

Hello, my name is Shoto! I’ve lived in and traveled many countries. Through the experiences, I saw a lot of different cultures and customs, and that made me realize how unique Japanese culture is.