Fabulous Festivals : Sounkyu Ice Fall Festival


We had a three-day weekend this week, prompting us to use it for a chance to get out of the city for a bit and up north into the mountains. We headed to Japan's largest national park, Daisetsuzan, and into the little village of Sounkyo (population: 300) for their magnificent Ice Fall Festival. This festival is an amazing man-made fantasy of frozen waterfalls, twisting grottos, ice caves, slippery ice staircases, and lots of bruised butts, all of which are psychedelically lit up at night. I'd like to think that if Dr. Seuss and Timothy Leary had lunch together, this is probably what they would come up with:

This is the kind of weather we were up against, even in late March! Tripods and long-exposures didn't stand a chance:

The festival thoughtfully had a large, warm hut selling all kinds of popular foods from Hokkaido, and especially our favorite: hot, sweet sake:

And there was a traditional Ainu woodcarving shop set up as well. The Ainu are the traditional peoples of the Hokkaido area whose rich heritage and culture are just now beginning to be appreciated by the Japanese people (and government):

Entrance to Daisetsuzan National Park:

Self-portrait in front of the little mountain village of Sounkyo.

The festival during the day is just as much fun, and was also another excuse to sip on some more of that sweet, hot sake!


Although I am DEFINITELY ready for Spring to grace us with its presence, I have to say that I truly love Hokkaido's winter-time festivals and frolicking! This weekend was an amazing getaway and it makes me so excited to further explore Daisetsuzan this summer and fall! For more photos of the Ice Fall Festival, check out its flicker photo set!