Sapporo Snow Festival ending after unprecedented lack of snow
Japan Today -- Feb 11
Every year, tens of thousands of tourists flock to the snow festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido, attracted by some 200 large, but intricate ice sculptures.

The festival closes on Tuesday but this year, there was a problem: no snow.

With high temperatures that festival-goers put down to climate change, organizers were forced to truck in powder from distant towns for their signature sculptures in an unheard-of ice crisis.

"This lack of snow is unprecedented," said Yumato Sato, an official in charge of organizing the snow festival, which normally uses 30,000 tons of the stuff for sculptures ranging from anime characters to famous racehorses.

"We had to bring in snow from places we had never reached out to before" such as Niseko, a town about 60 kilometers away from Sapporo famous for its skiing, he said.

Adding to the problem was the need for pristine snow, perfect for sculpting.

"The snow needs to be free of dirt, otherwise the sculptures can break up," he said. "We barely managed to scrape together enough snow."

Record low snowfall in Japan this year has also forced many ski resorts to shut their pistes. According to Weathernews, one quarter of the 400 resorts surveyed had been unable to operate.

There has been a knock-on effect on one of the snow festival's main attractions -- a 100-meter-long, 10-meter-high slide -- that had to be reduced in size.

Snowfall in Sapporo has been less than half the annual average, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency's local observatory. High temperatures melted the snow in mid-December and the mercury is expected to stay above average.

News source: Japan Today
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