As much as I enjoyed our day trip to Otaru, I never thought that I’d get so many blog posts out of this humble little town. I’ve already posted an abridged summary of our daytime wanderings, and posted some of the lovely doors I found. There will be a second Thursday Doors post for Otaru coming up in the near future, whenever I find time to put it together, but, in the meanwhile, I wanted to share some photos from one of the highlights of that day: Otaru’s Snow Light Path.
I kind of don’t want to write a lot here; I have so many photos from that night to share instead. (I will try to restrict myself a little, though)
Otaru has a little canal that used to be really important for trade. However, according to Japan-Guide.com (which, btw, is where I got a lot of information for our trip), better facilities in the later half of the 20th Century made the canal redundant. These days, the Canal still has flowing water (thanks to protests preventing it from being filled in), but the warehouses deal in trade of a different kind: namely, shops, restaurants and museums.
During the Snow Light Path Festival, the canal is dotted with floating candles. It’s quite a pretty sight, and you can walk up and down the canal in the evening to take it all in.
But the Snow Light Path is more than just pretty lights on the water. There are cute little sculptures along the footpath beside Otaru Canal, but lovely little lanterns can also be found all over town. As dusk approached, there was a whole task force out lighting candles all over the streets. If anyone knows how to apply for this job, please let me know – I’d seriously consider going back just for that (even if it is just a volunteering job).
We also found another area that had heaps of snow sculptures, more cute little lanterns, and, of course, more candles (sorry, not so helpful with place names, but, honestly, if you’re walking around between the canal and the main train station, it’s really hard to miss anyway)
After seeing the Sapporo Snow Festival, and then the Asahikawa Winter Festival, Otaru’s festival was a bit smaller still, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. They even had their own form of snow maze:
I really liked how they used leaves in all those lanterns; it gives it a beautiful wintry feel. Ok, to be honest, I’m not sure if they used real leaves for all of those lanterns, but the effect is stunning nonetheless. My favourite ice lantern from the Snow Light Path used this same technique, but it created an image:
The snow sculptures were impressive too – there was a really cool one of a dragon with its mouth full of candles (or some other light source) to make it look like it was about to unleash a fireball – but this one is probably my favourite because of its beautiful simplicity:
Isn’t it lovely?
Yeah, sure, anyone who’s ever made a snowball probably could have made that or something similar, but I reckon what I really like is the very fact that someone actually thought to make this for the festival. Amongst all the extravagant ideas, large-scale designs and fire-breathing dragons, someone thought, this – just this – is perfect.
And I wonder how many people looked at that, and immediately thought of the most special people in their lives… Maybe that’s what the artist intended?