The Iwate Snow Festival takes place in February at Koiwai Farm in Shizukuishi. A great excursion from Morioka, the capital of Iwate Prefecture, it’s famous for its intricate snow sculptures, elaborate fireworks displays, and hearty traditional cuisine.
- The fantastical snow sculptures
- Feasting on grill-your-own lamb dishes in an igloo
Go during the day and stay till sundown. The atmosphere changes when the sculptures are lit up at night.
There are also usually live performances and activities for young and old. These include sledding down a massive snow slide, riding a horse sleigh, and “tubing” while pulled by a snowmobile.
Feast on local cuisine
The Iwate Yuki Matsuri is also a showcase of local Iwate cuisine. A perennial favorite is hittsumi, a soup with meat and vegetables much like a Western-style stew that’s great for a winter day.
You can also warm up from the bitter cold with amazake, a sweet low-to-non-alcoholic drink made from fermented rice.
For a heartier meal, feast on the “Genghis Khan” lamb barbecue at the igloo-shaped restaurants. The igloo feast is very popular, so be prepared for a wait if you go during peak periods.
If you don’t need a big meal, try some of Koiwai Farm’s famous cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products.
Orchestra in the sky
The Yuki Matsuri closes each night with a fireworks display, with the most spectacular showcase reserved for the grand finale on the last night.
Outside the fairgrounds
You could spend anywhere from a few hours to an entire day at the snow festival. If you find yourself with some time to spare, there are ski slopes and hot springs nearby. And don’t forget to check out the nearby Morioka Handicraft Center, which showcases traditional local craftwork.