February 4, 2019
Sapporo--The 70th annual Sapporo Snow Festival started on Monday, featuring a total of 194 snow and ice sculptures at three venues in the capital of Hokkaido, northernmost Japan.
Two ice racehorse sculptures appeared in Odori Park, the main venue of the event, which will be held through Feb. 11.
Racehorses are actively produced in Hokkaido's Iburi and Hidaka regions, which were hit by a powerful earthquake in September last year. The sculptures are meant to encourage disaster victims, organizers said.
Visitors can board the ice sculpture of a "Star Wars" movie series combat aircraft at the Odori site.
There are 82 snow sculptures made by citizens. Among them are sculptures of popular television character Chiko-chan and Chibi Maruko-chan, the main character of the long-running namesake manga series created by Momoko Sakura, who died last year.
Some of the sculptures made by citizens were themed on peace and disaster reconstruction.
"The sculptures remind me of (Kobe) Luminarie after the Great Hanshin Earthquake," which devastated the western Japan city of Kobe and nearby areas 24 years ago, said Yutaka Yamauchi, a 69-year-old resident of Kobe. Kobe Luminarie is a light festival to commemorate the victims of the Hanshin quake.
"The sculptures are encouraging people to look forward and pick themselves up," he said. Jiji Press
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