A parade of beautifully lit ice and snow sculptures fill up Odori Park. (Kyodo)
The northernmost of Japan's four main islands is called Hokkaido. There, Japan's biggest snow festival is held in the city of Sapporo, famous for hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics.
At the 2011 Sapporo Snow Festival, held from February 7 to 13, 164 snow and 88 ice sculptures were constructed in three locations, the main setting being the narrow, 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile)-long Odori Park built alongside a big avenue running through the city's center. The snow for the sculptures was collected from local neighborhoods and brought in by truck, as many as 6,500 five-ton truckloads' worth!
The festival began in 1950, when six middle and high schools each created a snow sculpture at Odori Park. Over 50,000 people came to see the works, far surpassing expectations. The festival has been held annually since then. Over the years it has evolved into a full-scale international event, attracting more than 2 million visitors a year.