Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, elevates the term ‘Winter Wonder Land’ to an all new standard. Tourists are already familiar with the Sapporo Snow Festival and may have even heard of the Asahikawa Winter Festival. Just a two hour bus ride away from Asahikawa, Sounkyo is renowned for its waterfalls and natural hot springs. Once winter sets in, a crew sets to work and constructs an ice castle like something fashioned from a Japanese RPG. (You can see a video showing how its built here). This, coupled alongside the ethereal lights illuminating its frosty walls, creates a feast for the senses. It’s one additional reason why Hokkaido is an ideal destination for the season.
We had a chance to visit and take photographs of the area shortly after night fall. Be aware though, the last bus returning to Asahikawa departs shortly after dusk. Unless you’ve booked a hotel nearby then you won’t have the opportunity to see the firework show that goes off on most weekends until the festival’s closing ceremony.