Maps By Deborah Davidson
Sapporo, Japan is known as the snowiest major city in the world. Rather than simply enduring this dubious honor, we are always on the lookout for positive uses for snow-- for recreation as well as for industrial purposes. "Blessed by Snow" is an official motto of Sapporo.
When the water of Siberia's great Amur River flows into the Sea of Okhotsk, it freezes into chunks of ice. These chunks bump into each other and combine into ever-larger chunks which drift southward to the coast of Hokkaido, Japan from mid-January to March. Those who are willing to brave Hokkaido's frigid winter temperatures can experience this silvery-blue wonderland of ice, and the rich and varied ecosystem that accompanies it.
Daisetsuzan (also called Taisetsuzan) National Park is located in the mountainous center of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō. At 2267.64 square kilometers, Daisetsuzan is the largest national park in Japan. The Japanese name means "great snowy mountains," and it is often called "the roof of Hokkaido." But the name the indigenous Ainu gave these mountains is "the playground of the gods."
Hokkaido is Japan's northernmost island/prefecture. It has a culture and climate that is different from the rest of the country. One thing that sets Hokkaido apart is the language and culture of the Ainu, northern Japan's indigenous people.
Sapporo's festivals draw tourists from all over the world in huge numbers-- like 2 million for the Snow Festival, and almost that many for the Yosakoi Soran Festival. Then there are festivals that are cherished mainly by the locals, such as the Hokkaido Shrine Festival, and festivals specific to the Ainu, northern Japan's indigenous people. There are more festivals than can fit on the map. You'll just HAVE to come and see for yourself!!