Hokkaido’s Lake Shikotsu has always been famous for its blue waters, so pure they’ve topped Japan’s water quality rankings for 11 years running. About 40 years ago, tourists flocked here in summer, but were deterred by the region’s icy winters. To attract winter visitors, the locals pooled their ideas and created this festival. These sculptures of ice that show off the unique blue of the lake water take a dedicated team of 13 two months to build, working round the clock. This year there are five towering sculptures, a splendid sight in the sun and even more spectacular when illuminated at night.
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