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Sapporo Snow Festival Kicks Off in Hokkaido
15:26 JST, February 4, 2023
The Sapporo Snow Festival welcomed visitors for the first time in three years on Saturday.
The 2021 and 2022 events were held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Featuring more than 150 sculptures, the 73rd installment of the festival is taking place through Feb. 11 at Odori Park and Susukino in the heart of Hokkaido’s capital.
As the number of inbound visitors to Japan has increased since the easing of COVID-related border measures, organizers are expecting close to 2 million visitors, the same number as before the pandemic.
This year’s festival does not feature amusements such as a giant snow slide, and there are no food and beverage booths as part of pandemic countermeasures.
Also, signs in English, Chinese and Korean advising visitors to wear masks are dotted around festival sites, and single-direction walkways have been installed to prevent overcrowding.
Organizers stressed that crowd safety was a priority following the deadly crush in the Itaewon district in Seoul last year.
A large snow sculpture of the family home of British nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale dominated one corner of Odori Park. According to the organizers, it was created as a symbol of gratitude to medical workers.
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