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Amazing Lake Shikotsu: More than just a winter wonderland

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Text, photos, and video by Monsi A. Serrano/THEPHILBIZNEWS

Regardless of your generation, adding to your bucket list a trip to Sapporo is worth including especially if you plan it well and during one of their coldest months in Sapporo when snow and ice festivals are held.

While I was fortunate to go to Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) in Quebec, Canada, nothing beats the sights that will truly mesmerize you at Chitose-Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival wherein you will see colorful ice sculptures and “Kamakura” which is equivalent to igloo often but not rightly associated with the Eskimos.

Sapporo Snow Festival is a great experience, as you will witness beautiful snow sculptures painstakingly created by the Japanese artists which are part of their celebration of the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri.

The Snow Festival has three main spots for both local and foreign tourists to visit, and these are held at Odori Site, Susukino Site and Tsu Dome Site.

Here, guests can enjoy the various masterpieces created by sculptors such as famous huge snow sculptures of different images depending on the artists’ concept. These huge snow sculptures are approximately more than 25 meters wide and 15 meters high, and these are lighted daily.

The Sapporo Snow Festival features about 250 snow and ice sculptures depicting everything from historical structures, known personalities, cartoon characters, and anything that these artists can imagine spawned across the three main sites.

Anyone who experiences the Sapporo winter wonderland can tell the whole world that walking under the heavy snow and freezing temperature is a worthy experience to have in your life, and seeing the beautiful artwork made from snow, and the friendly people in Japan will make your visit a memorable one.

The Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival 

While the entire Hokkaido is in heavy snow during the winter and a great opportunity to enjoy Japan’s winter wonderland, the Sapporo Snow Festival is the most visited part of the winter. However, there are also other places worth seeing, and one of them is the Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival.

The marvelous ice structures will surely mesmerize you and the question will inevitably pop up in your mind, “How did they make it?”

This was the same question that had been redounding on my mind on how they transformed these banks of Lake Shikotsu into a magical frozen world with all the wonderful lighting they meticulously integrated into all the structures they created.

What also caught my attention, is when the evening comes, the colorful illumination of ice castles, caves, plateaus, and stadium-like structures would make you think, you are in a different part of the world. It’s magical as some astounded visitors uttered as they walked through the metamorphosed Ice World of the Lake Shikotsu.

The experience one can have will not be just unique but also breathtaking, because if you only know what the lake looks like in summer, you will realize that only brilliant minds can make such a great transformation of the place that even Hansel and Gretel would be tempted again to roam around there, as any visitor would feel like you are in another part of the world and would never wish to go home as you want to enjoy the fantastic frozen world inside the Lake Shikotsu.

The mesmerizing and colorful structure in Lake Shikotsu

With their friendly and helpful staff, my winter wonderland experience with Chitose-Lake Shikotsu Park for Ice Festival is truly one-of-a-kind. The event runs from January 25 till February 17 and these months are the coldest months in the region.

For some who are not used to extremely cold weather, I can tell you it’s worth the trip and experience. Besides, one does not have to wear a gizmo jacket as the Japanese have Uniqlo where you can buy a lightweight and thin winter jacket enough to warm you if you are not heterothermic.

The arena-like ice sculpture where there are various entrances for the visitors

What is amazing about Lake Shikotsu is that the area is surrounded by hot springs. But during the wintertime, it is transformed into a gorgeous dreamland for their Ice Festival.

More than the ice sculptures creatively crafted, the area of  Shikotsu takes pride in having the clearest water in Japan, and ironically it freezes. For the young ones, they can play in the ice slide, the rink, or in Canada it’s called “tobogganing” while enjoying the colorful ice sculptures.

If you are alone, the Lake Shikotsu staff are very happy to take your photo in the spot they created right in front of the huge and vibrant ice structures for free. It doesn’t matter whether you come on day or night, but one thing is certain, plan for next year’s Ice Festival and also swing by at another exciting winter in Sapporo at Oduri Park and Suzukino Snow Festival which The Philippine Business and News will cover.

A purple tower structure inside Lake Shikotsu Park

If you feel cold or hungry, there is are food stalls that offer delicious and affordable food to eat out. You can even bring your hot drink inside the igloo, but make sure you dispose of your rubbish in the garbage bin.

Caves and other structures made of snow

For better appreciation, please watch the video:

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