In my last snow festival post, I focused on the insane amount of snow and ice present along Odori Park in the heart of Sapporo. Just a few blocks away there was a display of ice sculptures in Susukino. Since there was so much going on, I decided to separate the two out and dedicate an entire post to the ice sculptures and festivities around Susukino.
A bit of history about Susukino: It used to be the red light district in Sapporo. You can still get some of those vibes, as hostess bars line the streets and giant billboards and posters showcasing women are seen everywhere. A Japanese couple taking pictures next to me made a joke about how risqué their pictures would be with all these women in the background, and that made me laugh, since I wasn’t the only one noticing that.
The ice sculpture competition happens pretty early in the snow festival agenda. By the time I arrived for the second half of the festivities, all the judging was completed, and award-winning markers were added to each sculpture. I would have walked right past the grand champion and runner-up had not a kindly Japanese woman pointed out the innocuous award markers at the base of each statute. The theme I noticed this year seemed to be dragons.
There was also an ice bar but I wasn’t too terribly impressed: It only had three ice walls, a low tarp ceiling, and everything else was regular furniture. When I visited Harbin, China for their ice festival, my hotel had a legit ice bar: Ice seats, ice tables, ice shots, and a replica ice piano. The ice bar at Susukino wasn’t quite up to that level, but still novel in its own right.
The night-time illuminations were also a bit underwhelming. Based on the posters and pictures I had seen, I expected all sorts of multicolored lights and theming to be present. Instead, most were just lit by a small stage light. The liquor-sponsored sculptures had a few extra colors but nothing too creative. I’d say see the sculptures during the day if that’s what you’re there for; you’ll see more of the details and the crowds won’t be as rough. Things like the Asian Airlines ice airplane and small illumination garden look great at night, but they’re such a small part of the experience that I’m not sure it’s worth a dedicated trip for them.
Overall, the snow festival was wonderful! If you get a chance to go, do so! The statutes and sculptures change every year which adds a big bonus for past visitors to visit again. I had a blast with my time there and I wouldn’t mind visiting again another year!
I also made a short overview video of my time in Sapporo (includes both Odori Park and Susukino). Give it a look below!