Although I have lived in Japan for the last five years, I have not yet made it to Hokkaido. Thus, I haven’t been to the Hokkaido snow sculpture festival that is held in February each year. However, I did get a chance to do something similar in South Korea when I was there.
For about one week in January, Mt. Taebaek in Gangwon-do, Korea holds an annual snow festival. There are snow sculptures, snow sliding, hiking, food, and ceremonies. I did this trip with the tour group Adventure Korea. It was a two-day trip costing around 79,000 won, or roughly $80 Canadian Dollars. This covered transportation to and from Seoul, accommodations, some meals, various entrance fees, and English speaking guides.
At the time, I was living about an hour outside of Seoul, so I had to wake up early on Saturday morning to be able to make it to the 7:00 AM bus pick-up area in Seoul. I went with my friend from Bucheon who was an English teacher at a different school. After getting on the bus, we made one more stop in Seoul to pick up the rest of the adventurers and were on our way.
Once we were all on board, about 30 of us, the guides had us all give our introductions. Most of us were English teachers, but there were a few tourists and students. I was a slightly irritated by the fact that most of us introduced our countries, while the Americans introduced which state or even city they were from. Ahem, not everybody knows what Oregon is. Or what does it matter which part of California you’re from? And like, “up-state New York?” What does that even mean? And why would you think everybody knows where Long Island is? Dear Americans, just say you are from the United States (don’t say America) when addressing a large group of international people and, if it is so imperative, work out the geographic specifics amongst yourselves later. Okay, end rant.
On the way to the mountain, we stopped at a cave. I have been in a few caves during my life, but I must say that each time I go into one, the more I don’t like them. I’m not claustrophobic, but something about them creeps me out, and I start to think about monsters. And earthquakes. Anyway, this cave was not very challenging and had wooden walkways, and fountains in it. Don’t ask me why. It was tacky. Still, I think the mineral deposits and natural cave formations are interesting.
We had lunch in Taebaek town before going over to the snow festival area. The snow sculptures were big, and they reminded me of the sand sculpture competitions I have seen in Canada. Some of them were even interactive, and you could stand inside them.
My favourite one was the Darth Vader.
There was also a frozen pond area for the kiddies to play on. One activity they had was a little sledge that the kids sat on and pushed themselves around with two wooden sticks. There was also a slide that was carved out of huge blocks of ice. The kids and parents walked up the short steps and slid down the icy slide on their buts – no sleds needed. It was really fun to watch, and must have been even more fun to do. I don’t remember if I did it or not though…
After my friend and I explored all the snow sculptures, we left the display area and went to check out the rest of the festival area after stopping in at the snow cafe to sit on the ice chairs at the ice counter for a warm drink.
Let me know in the comment section if you have been to any snow sculpture festivals around the world.
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Read about our snow hike up Taebaek Mountain the next day here. (coming soon)