Photo By: ©Niigata Professional Photographers Society/©JNTO
Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Niigata
Population
2,475,724

Tokamachi Snow Festival

Sippin' sake and seeing snow sculptures at Japan’s original snow festival.

  • Due to unavoidable circumstances, we got word from Tokamachi local government that the 2019 snow carnival part of the event has been canceled this year. For the full update, please look in the "Things To Know" part of this article.
  • Feb. 15 to 17, 2019
  • 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. on Feb 16, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Feb 17.
Bursting with community spirit and down-to-earth charm, Tokamachi Snow Festival styles itself as being the first contemporary snow festival in Japan. This weekend-long event in February is the perfect choice for visitors who want to enjoy a wide range of snowy activities without the crowds that the bigger festivals attract.

Tokamachi, located in a mountainous area in the south of Niigata Prefecture. It’s one of the snowiest towns in the country — receiving a staggering 460 inches of snow a year on average — which naturally makes it the perfect location for a snow festival. And given the popularity of the event, which sees around 260,000 attendees annually, it seems safe to say it has achieved that aim.

Tokamachi Snow Festival is much closer to Tokyo than the Sapporo one.

Photo by: maio_o_o Tokamachi Snow Festival is much closer to Tokyo than the Sapporo one.

The festival is spread out across the town at a number of hiroba, or open-air public sites, where you can find a huge variety of snow sculptures. Some of these are created by professional artists, however, the majority are contributed by local residents and schoolchildren. This gives the festival an authentic neighborhood vibe in comparison with more the more famous yet younger Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido.

Highlights of the snow festival

The highlight of Tokamachi’s festival is, without a doubt, the Snow Carnival, (Map) which takes places on Saturday night. This spectacular show features live music by popular artists, dance performances, a kimono showcase and stunning fireworks displays – all on a stage made entirely out of snow!

There are plenty of other snowy attractions to enjoy, including a snow slide, snow tubing, and snow volleyball, plus local food and drink – at the “ウェルカムひろば”, or welcome area, you can try local sake, beer and even free amazake (a sweet drink made from rice) at several sites.

So if you’re looking for a fun-filled snow festival that still retains a traditional, community vibe, Tokamachi is well worth the trip!

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Things To Know

Important Update for 2019 Event

Here is the statement regarding the cancellation of the Snow Carnival from the Tokamachi Tourism Board: On Monday, February 4th, 2019, a serious accident occurred at the site of the Snow Carnival stage involving the death of one worker and another worker who sustained minor injuries. First, from the bottom of our hearts, we offer our deepest prayers to the man who passed away, and we pray for the man who was injured to have a speedy recovery. Due to the circumstances surrounding this tragic accident, the Tokamachi Snow Festival Executive Committee has decided to cancel this year’s Snow Carnival. However、all other programs and events outside of the Snow Carnival will still be held as planned. The accident was due to recent weather conditions which made the stage especially susceptible to collapse. The site has been deemed a safety hazard. We do not foresee any further accidents happening, and the Tokamachi Snow Festival Executive Committee will be focusing all of its energy on the ongoing preparations for the festival、We thank you for your understanding. February 6, 2019 Tokamachi Snow Festival Executive Committee Note: In light of these changes to the 2019 Tokamachi Snow Festival program, we have decided to offer full refunds to those who have purchased Snow Festival Passports. Full details are found here: https://snowfes.jp/wp/?p=15892&lang=en

Details

This annual event typically takes place in mid-February. For more information: https://snowfes.jp/?lang=en

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒948-0079 Niigata-ken, Tōkamachi-shi, Asahichō, 261−22 十日町駅

By train

The nearest station is Tokamachi.

From Tokyo, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo-Yuzuwa (75-90 minutes) and transfer to the Hokuhoku line to reach Tokamachi (30 minutes).

For further access instructions, go to the official access page.

By bus

There are also two loop buses connecting the festival sites: one runs between the downtown sites, and one takes visitors to the sites outside of the town center. Day ticket

By foot

The Snow Carnival site is 30 minutes’ walk from Tokamachi station, and many of the other sites are also within walking distance of station.

Where To Stay

  • 〒948-0073 NiigataTokamachi-Shi
  • 9.4/10
  • 0.3 km
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Hotel SIMIZU
  • Honcho2-223 Tokamachi-Shi, Niigata 948-0082
  • 7.6/10
  • 0.5 km
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Kaki no Kian
  • Baba 472 Tokamachi-Shi, Niigata 949-8551
  • 9.2/10
  • 6.3 km
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Noka Minshuku Sanzen
  • Himizo Jin 78 Tokamachi-Shi, Niigata 949-8408
  • 9.6/10
  • 10.2 km
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