Otaru Snow Light Path back after two years, open February 11 to 13 at smaller scale

22nd Otaru Snow Light Path held in February 2020

The Otaru winter tradition “Otaru Snow Light Path” is back after a two-year absence, and is slated for February 11-13, 2022. To prevent COVID-19 spreading, the event will be held for a shorter period of three days, but the planning committee decided to go through with holding it at a reduced scale out of a desire to, “do something to hopefully bring back winter tourists who have been staying away due to the pandemic.” However, in light of circumstances including the sudden global expansion of the new variant “Omicron” strain, the planning committee will make final decisions about issues including the scale towards the end of January 2022, with a keen eye on the developing situation.

The general event outline was determined in the first planning committee session on December 3. The committee is considering a small-scale venue event, with measures including not deploying the main Former Temiya Line and Asarigawa Onsen venues, but instead using the Otaru Canal area only, and relying mainly on online live streaming. The annual Former Temiya Line star attractions, the snow tunnel and slide, will not be deployed. One other reason for the reduced scale is insufficient help due to the difficulty of entry into Japan for South Korean volunteers amidst pandemic conditions.

Conversely, the committee wants to implement a new plan that dubs city residents as “Light Holders”. The plan calls for Official Candles to be distributed to a maximum of ten thousand city residents, who will light them at their own houses, neighborhood associations, and the shopping arcade. The “Light Path Venues” set up in various places around the city in normal years will be absorbed into this new plan.

The target amount for candle distribution is 100 thousand candles. The committee wants to call for crowdfunding to pay a portion of the cost, amounting to 1,500,000 yen for 30 thousand candles. Appreciation gifts for donations include pedestal lanterns made from wax called “wax bowls” and the “Eternal Snow Wedding” ceremony package that has been successfully implemented at the Canal and other areas in February of 2021.

Planning Committee Chairperson Saijo Fumiyuki expressed his ambitions, “The Sapporo Snow Festival has been greenlit, and a fair number of tourists will probably flow into Otaru. Of course, we will have to rethink this if an Emergency Declaration is ordered, but otherwise I want to promote Otaru and have tourists enjoy coming here.”

The Snow Light Path began in 1999 as an event in which candles were lit in candlesticks made of snow and ice. There were 180,000 visitors for the first installment, and 2008 saw a high record of 575,000 visitors for the tenth installment. There were 315,200 visitors for the 22nd installment in February 2020.


Otaru Canal