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.
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.
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!