From Sapporo to Otaru for the Snow Light Path festival
Otaru is a small charming town less than one hour train from Sapporo and far away from the chaotic metropolis of Japan. During winter, usually in the week of Sapporo Snow Festival, the town hosts the Snow Light Path Festival, a theme event seeing thousands of small snow statues illuminated by candles.
How to get to Otaru?
Otaru is located on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan and the closest airport is Sapporo New Chitose. Light rail links the airport to Otaru through Sapporo, with journey time of just under an hour and a half (less than one hour if departing from central Sapporo). The railway station in Otaru is within walking distance from most of the attractions.
Otaru has the appearance of a quiet town far from the chaos of the Japanese metropolis, and there are no skyscrapers. The number of inhabitants is slightly higher than 130,000.
As with most of other cities on the island of Hokkaido, Otaru also receives several meters of snow each winter.
Among the picturesque streets of Otaru, visitors will find many Japanese restaurants, displaying their inviting specialties, which include lot of dishes with orange salmon eggs.
Some restaurants, like also in the rest of Japan, exhibit plastic reproductions of the dishes offered.
The quiet streets of Otaru
As in the rest of Hokkaido island, also in Otaru the snow is efficiently removed from the streets, leaving just a wall of ice on both sides.
Otaru is also called the "Venice of Japan
" for the presence of various canals running through the city, which, however, albeit picturesque, of course, have nothing to do with the city in Italy.
Some sculptors prepare statues and snowmen for the Festival of Lights, which by nightfall, will give start to a beautiful show.
Big icicles hanging from the roof.
Photo of Otaru at night, among snow-covered roads and piles of snow.
The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
starts around 17:00, when thousands of candles contained within small snow sculptures, are lit. The event is arranged in two areas of the city, within a short walking distance from the railway station.
The first area, the main of the festival, is a big channel of water in Otaru near the commercial port, where candles are lit also on the surface of water (Unga Kaijo).
Around the canal, there are hundreds of snow statues lit by candles. The Otaru festival
is held in conjunction with Sapporo Snow Festival, thus making possible for tourists to visit both events (Otaru is located less than an hour from Sapporo and there are several trains per hour).
Photos of Otaru festival, with several streets lit by hundreds of candles contained in small ice sculptures.
More photos of festival of lights on the snow
Some sculptures have been specially built for those who wish to photograph themselves with an unusual background.
The second area in Otaru home to the Snow Light Path festival
, it is a side street along the main way that connects the railway station with the port (Temiyasen Kaijo) : arriving by train it is impossible to miss it.
Small ice sculptures are found for about half a kilometer along Temiyasen Kaijo avenue, all beautifully lit with candles.
Some compositions are real works of art that will last only a few days.
Snow sculptures representing small owls, illuminated from inside with candles.
During Otaru festival in Japan
, a labyrinth of snow is set up and lit with many candles placed inside small niches.