All About Japan

A Village Made Entirely Out of Snow?!

| Snow , Hokkaido

For the people living in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, the severe cold and heavy snow in the winter can be a real challenge. But the organizers of a unique event called the Shikaribetsuko Kotan seem to have found a way to turn the cold into an asset by offering visitors the chance to have the full Hokkaido winter experience.

The event, which takes place at Lake Shikaribetsu (Shikaribetsuko in Japanese) in central Hokkaido, was started almost 40 years ago by local youths who wanted to turn this lonely lake with very few visitors during the winter into a special place where people would actually be able to enjoy the cold weather. Their brilliant idea? Building an entire village of ice and snow on the lake each year!

The lake itself is a place of amazing, unspoiled natural beauty, located on the southern end of Daisetsuzan National Park. The pristine body of water is one of the clearest lakes in Japan, and the cold climate means it completely freezes over in the winter, making it possible to create buildings of ice on it, including igloo-shaped ice lodges, an ice bar lounge and even an ice chapel. And you know what just might be the coolest part about all this? Because all the buildings and structures are made using only natural snow and ice from the lake, the entire village simply melts away and disappears come springtime!

The actual buildings are built from blocks of ice made by compressing the snow, which allows the structures to be made in various aesthetically pleasing shapes with a certain degree of architectural freedom. The lodges where the guests stay in particular are constructed in an attractive igloo shape.

The ice lodges look beautiful, especially by moonlight.

They’ve also built gorgeous ice chapels in different shapes over the years.