Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hokkaido Winter 2013 北海道冬季之旅 - Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival (Hyoubaku Matsuri) 層雲峡温泉氷瀑まつり

Visited 07.02.2013
Year 2013: 19.01.2013 - 31.03.2013
Year 2014: 18.01.2013 - 30.03.2013

There are numerous events/festivals held all across Hokkaido during the winter season, with varying duration - over a weekend, a couple of weeks, one month etc. Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival is one of the longest running event in winter, over a period of 2.5 months. Venue is just opposite the main onsen town and is about 5 mins walk from Sounkyo Kankou Hotel (which we stayed in during this trip).

Wind was growling fiercely that night, but that did not deter us from making the trip down to participate in this festival. We did all we could to keep ourselves warm - protected by 4 layers of clothing, 2 layers of gloves, 2 layers of socks, multiple heat packs and mask. Unfortunately, the walk from our hotel to the event venue was downwind and we had to force our way, step by step, through the strong, chilly winds. Eventually took us longer to reach the event venue. Was an unforgettable experience indeed.



- This is not exactly a frozen waterfall like what its name suggested. The huge ice structures were formed by pouring water from Ishikari River repeatedly onto the wooden structures/supports, whereby the water freezes to become ice in the cold weather. The entire venue is also beautifully lighted up by colourful lights in the night. This event is a major highlight of Sounkyo Onsen in winter, therefore not to be missed if you are staying overnight here.

- Ice tunnel -
- Ice domes, cones and armchairs -
- A shrine set up in the event venue -
- Ice in various forms, shapes and sizes can be found here. Explore the ice tunnel while watching out for the icicles hanging above your head, pop your head into the ice domes, admire the ice cones, test out the ice furniture, etc. There is a ice shrine constructed in the event venue; instead of tossing coins into a well, make a wish and stick your coins onto the ice walls in the shrine!

- A postcard and discount voucher (100 yen) for amazake (non alcoholic drink made from fermented rice) are issued upon entrance. There is an instant photo taking booth, which gives out thumb-sized photo printed on a event commemorative card free of charge (making it a good souvenir to bring back home). If you are pleased with the photos taken, you can purchase the larger sized photos instead. A tentage with stalls selling souvenirs, food and drinks is also erected in the event venue - a pit stop to head down to warm your bodies near the heaters provided and shelter yourself temporarily from the cold winds.

- There are also fireworks performance at 2030 hrs that last for 10 - 15 mins, on stipulated dates. A great way to end the tour before heading back to the hotel!


Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival 層雲峡温泉氷瀑まつり
Admission fee = 100 yen
Sounkyo Tourism Association:

View Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival in a larger map

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