Sapporo’s Snow Festival, also known as the Yuki Matsuri, is the biggest and most important winter festival in all of Japan. It’s during this time when people from all over the world puts on their coats and boots, ready for some fun in the snow, regardless of the cold temperatures. This is the ideal time to enjoy live shows, taste the best of Sapporo’s food or have a romantic date in the snow. Every year, snow and ice artists participate in this festival, which has the support of many volunteers and even the Self-Defense Forces of Japan, making this an event that joins people together from Hokkaido, Japan and from around the World.
Every year, the Yuki Matsuri’s sculptures surprise and amaze the audience, and this year was no exception. Even if the only official competition is the International Snow Sculptures Contest, the main attractions are the enormous sculptures that also act as a stage for the live and light shows. This makes it very hard to choose which sculpture is the best, as every single one of them represents the hard work of many people, proof of their commitment to making beautiful works of art. However, we’ll tell you about three of our favourite pieces.
In third place we can find the ice sculpture “Traditional and Modern Taiwan.” This piece contains the three most iconic and representative symbols of Taiwan. At the center of the sculpture, we can find the National Palace Museum, which occupies the fourth place among the largest museums in the world. To the left of it, we can find a scale copy of the Taipei 101 building, a skyscraper that has 106 floors (5 underground and 101 over the ground), its 509.2 meters in height, which makes it the tenth highest skyscraper in the world. Built in the Xinji District of Taipei, since its opening in 2004, it has become an icon of Taipei. It not only represents the union between sky and earth, but also the union of the traditional Asian culture (which we can identify by its shape which is reminiscent of pagodas) with modern life. To its right, we can find the Taiwan Express Train, which began operating in 2007 and revolutionized transportation on the island, reducing the travelling time between Taipei, Kaohsiung and Zuoying to 1 hour and a half between each station, before this train was built, the trip could take up to 4 hours. In this way, the development of Taiwan is also represented. We like this sculpture not only because its symbolizes the union of the past, present and future of Taiwan, but also because it represents the union between Japanese and Taiwanese people, two islands which have a shared history.
In second place is the sculpture “Winter Sports Paradise, Hokkaido!” Built by the Self-Defense Forces, and inspired by the fair competition, union and friendship of the Olympic Games, this sculpture shows how Hokkaido is one of the most famous places in the world to practice any winter sports. In this way, Sapporo shows its support not only to the Japanese team, but to all the athletes that compete at Sochi 2014 and that will compete in the Asian Winter Games 2017, which will be hosted in Sapporo. The Yuki Matsuri 2014 really gets involved in celebrating the Olympic Games.
Finally, in first place, the sculpture that was most popular was the “Sultan Abdul Samad Building.” The original structure was built between the years 1894 and 1897; it was designed by the British architect A.C. Norman, who after his trips through Africa and India, was inspired to imprint a Moro Style on the building, imitating what he saw at the Islamic mosques. Today it works as the centre of the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia, and has been the venue of many important events in the country’s history, becoming the symbol of both, its independence and the period of the British dominance. Today, during the evening time, it is also illuminated to highlight its structure. This sculpture was also the work of the Self-Defense Forces, something that you can immediately notice due the precision of its traces, and how much care was put in every detail to faithfully copy the original building. At night, due the different illuminations, its structure majestically rises in the middle of Odori Park and presides over the whole festival. As a work of art and as a symbol of the friendship between Japan and Malaysia, the “Building Sultan Abdul Samad” was by far the best sculpture of this year.