Monday, March 1, 2010

Nagaoka Yukishika Matsuri

Over the two days of last weekend, it was the annual Nagaoka Yukishika Festival.
This is my second time attending the snow festival, as my first time was two years ago. Last year, I gave it a skip because of the bad weather. The term "yukishika" can be traced back all the way prior to the widespread of refrigerators. Back then, in every parts of Nagaoka, snow was stacked into pyramid-shaped structures, covered with rugs made of straws, and these snow are sold throughout the year for refrigeration. These shops which sold only snow are known as "yuki-shika-ya"「雪しか屋」 ("shika" in Japanese language means "only") and it is from that name that this festival got its name.
Statues of Kome-Hyappyou, an important event in Japan's history, where it symbolises the idea that patience and perseverance in the present will lead to profit in the future.
The venue of the snow festival, Hive Nagaoka. The helicopter in the background let visitors to experience viewing the city from above the sky.
Tiger, the biggest snow carving taking part in the 100 Dolls Contest.
I took part in the contest two years ago but this time, taking a picture with this tiger will do haha!
Only now that I'm able to relate that perhaps the reason a tiger was picked is because it is the year of tiger this year.
Anyway, next to that tiger, there was a huge hill of snow which was as tall as a two-storey tall building. It was built specially for a few events, which included the snow-wall climbing, jumbo snow slide, plus a mini-sized one for young toddlers. This is the main spot where most kids who attended the snow festival would be gathering every time.
Climbing the snow-wall with ropes, and then gliding all the way down.
Sitting on a huge tire and glide down. Looks really fun!
A more flat slope for younger kids.
Some kids were too young, that they needed their parents to accompany them.
At another corner, there were several other events and activities for visitors. Among others were throwing snow balls into holes on cardboards, mochi pounding, and sawing large tree trunks. From what I observed, most of the activities there were specially prepared mainly for the kids.
In other words, this snow festival is held for the kids, who were accompanied by their parents to have fun in the weekends.
Another two heads of mascots; on the left is Jabbit-kun, the mascot of Yomiuri Giants, while on the right is ... I don't know haha!
Rabbit (that's me, just in case you don't know) posing with Jabbit haha wtf!
The kids will make a few snow balls, aim at the hole on the board, and try to hit the target.

Mochi pounding with an unknown mascot, which I have forgotten already what is it called.

Scary looking Doraemon haha!
Sawing huge trunks. One of the staff asked me if I wanna try it, and I gave him a nod straight away.

If a pair manages to cut the trunk within thirty seconds, they would be giving out a certificate to the pair.
So, my partner and me tried hard to saw the trunk as fast as possible, while the guy in green jacket took our time.
Looks simple but it was quite tiring. In the end, we only managed to finish cutting it in 56 seconds, so didn't get any certificates-lor haha!
They will then heat up these steel stamps on charcoal.
And stamp it on the wood and give it to us as souvenirs.
Food stalls around the area.
There is another event, 100 だるま大会 (100 Daruma Taikai), or simply, "100 Dolls Contest". I have posted a detailed entry about this contest in this entry, in which I have participated in the contest by making my first ever snowman in my life, although it looked quite ugly haha! This year, I didn't take part in the contest, but just merely took a stroll at the area, where the participants build their snowman.
Walking along the rows of snowman, one will come across several weird shapes and hard-to-be-indentified snowman, which will make you laugh.
100 Dolls Contest.

"Fashionable Pig", which had lost one of its eyes haha!
"Me", which I think it looks pretty scary.
"Doraemon" looked so pitiful and all over the place lol!
A family still busy putting the finishing touch to their sculpture.
At night, it was one of the highlights of the snow festival - the illumination event, called "Yuki Akari", or "The Light of Snow". This year, as the snowfall is much more than the previous years, the area they had the light-up was much bigger as well. Preparations started early that evening, with hundreds of candles placed along the walking path and around the trees. When it started to get dark at night, these candles were lighten up and it turned the place into a different atmosphere.
The lights and shadows made the area looked serenely breathtaking and romantic, just almost the perfect setting for dating couples.
Those triangular monuments are made of fiber and candles are lighted up inside them.
The place looks like a fantasy land, but at the same time, it is super chilly, can die! I swear I would never go there again haha wtf!
I didn't bring a tripod along, so guess where I placed my camera while taking this picture haha!
Taiko (not "big brother", but it refers to "drum" in Japanese) performances.
Gotta give them credit for going ahead with their performances normally, while bearing the cold temperature, despite wearing only a thin layer of costumes.
As the finale to the snow festival, they had snow fireworks display. The fireworks display didn't last long; it was nothing compared to the summer fireworks festival. Nevertheless, it certainly provide a different experience altogether to watch fireworks in a freezing winter night, surrounded with hundreds of illuminated candles on the snow.
It started off with the display of fireworks for people who wished to make dedications to their loved ones. Apparently, there was a time a few years back, where a guy proposed to his girlfriend during this fireworks display.
I wonder how a girl will feel, to get a proposal in such way. Is it romantic, or is it the opposite?


fufu said...

wow wow wow... so eventful ya nagaoka!!! this reminds me of the yuki matsuri in otaru >< i had a great time in hokkaido 5yrs ago time flies...

Kae Vin said...

wow this is so cool! Wish I could be there as well.

~Live Life~ said...

I like the candle luminarie with the fireworks as the background...simply breathtaking...

Guess u might be putting your camera on a pile of snow? absolutely no idea...=P

calvin said...

@ fufu:
this will be my last year in a place where it really snows, so i'm just making the most out of it :)

i'd love to attend the snow festival in hokkaido one day. heard that it's a really nice one xD

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
cool and COLD at the same time haha!

calvin said...

@ ~live life~:
it is really beautiful, but the downside is that you gotta stand the super freezing temperature. everyone there were shivering so much while watching the fireworks display >.<

i placed my camera on the wooden piece of trunk, which i sawed earlier that day haha!

mg said...

pics of the trunk? it's my neighbour totoro!!!! so cuteee.. so beautiful those candles+fireworks. wish i was there! =((

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
the stamped trunk is on my shelve now. i can give it to you, if you want xD

oh yeah, that's totoro. never mind, i know nuts about japanese anime haha!

Anonymous said...

cut tree damn fun leh ?
syiok ...

calvin said...

@ kh:
yup, but not when it comes to counting grass =P