Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates.
The annual Tokamachi Snow Festival is held during the third week of February in the picturesque Niigata Prefecture. Dating back to 1950, it is the oldest winter festival in Japan.
The city of Tokamachi is known for its abundant snowfalls. This area actually gets the most snow than any other spot on Japan's main island of Honshu. Even though snowstorms cause much trouble for local residents, the festival celebrates winter weather with an array of fun activities.
Snow sculptures, big and small, are the main attraction of the festival. You have to see the compositions where several sculptures are put together. They are called "hiroba." Some works are created by snow artists, other by local school children. The topics and techniques vary greatly.
In addition to the snow sculptures competition, the festival features the kimono fashion show, traditional art demonstrations, folk music and dancing, wonderful street decor and illumination, tea ceremony, snow carnival, and, of course, a magnificent firework display. The locals make a lot of effort to decorate their houses and the streets for the festival. Lots of delicious food as well as rice wine is also prepared for visitors.