Even time passes, Otaru Snow Light Path keeps existing there.
It is the 20th year since Otaru Snow Light Path began in 1999. This event now enjoys more than 500,000 visitors during the period, but every organizer says respectively that the scale and the number of visitors are not the matters to boast.
Their fundamental idea for this festival is consistent. They would like the people visiting the festival to feel easy, to think about things leisurely in the glow of the candlelight, and to have time to reflect on themselves forgetting a little of their bothersome daily life in a rapidly changing society. They hope this festival will continue as a spiritual event rather than a commercially oriented festival.
Otaru Snow Light Path remains as it has been so long as there is the unchanged “thoughts of people”, even though times change.
The Canal Site
─Wavering Lights on the Water─
The Otaru Canal that played an important role in the history of Hokkaido’s development is now one of the most popular tourist attractions of Otaru. Floating on the freezing surface of the canal is the wavering light of candles in the glass floats that are the same product once used for herring fishing.
Handmade snow and ice art objects along the promenade, “Couples’ Sanctuary”, and “Heart Monument” on the Asakusabashi bridge set off the quaint atmosphere of the canal area along with the old stone and brick warehouses. The Canal site represents all about Otaru Snow Light Path.
Former Temiya Railway Line Site
─Snow and Light in Silence─
It was in 1880 when the third oldest railway in Japan was laid between Temiya and Horonai.The train would run carrying coals, and the dream of development of Hokkaido.
The service of the line was terminated finishing its role in 1985, but the track remains as a precious relic of railway.The dead track having a snow tunnel, and rimmed with the candlelight seems to stretch endlessly.
The rumbling sound of train is not here anymore, and there is such quietness as you can hear even your footsteps instead. This site can be a wonderful spot for you to reflect on yourself.
Asarigawa Hot Spring Village Site
─Fantastic Space Created by the Combination of Nature and Light ─
Asarigawa Hot Spring Village located on the city outskirts is well known not only for its wonderful hot springs but also as a place for skiing and snowboarding.Here, there is another “hidden brilliant spot” of Snow Light called “The River Site”
In this site, you can enjoy the fantastic scene of the light of candles placed on the snow-covered stones in the river. This site attracts many enthusiasts of Snow Light Path and amateur photographers every year. They visit here to experience a different world created by natural objects that cannot be seen at other sites.
Significance of Made-by-Hand
“Making by Hands” has been the concept since the beginning of this festival.Many overseas volunteers from Korea and China in addition to the locals spontaneously get together to support Snow Light Path when the festival comes near.
Working in the bitter cold, they are chilled to the bone. They have to relight the candles one by one when the lights are blown out in the unexpected blizzard. They have nothing else to do but deal the nature of the north with human’s wisdom. However, they say the deep impression and the feeling of affinity that can be gained only through this experience are nurtured in their mind.
Spread of Snow Light Path in the City
The Canal and Former Temiya Railway Line are not all the sites of Snow Light Path. A total of more than 100,000 private candles illuminate many other places of the city during the festival period. The locals’ feeling of “Hospitality” to the visitors that the candlelight conveys gently envelops the whole city.
The visitors to Otaru must be surprised to find that there are so many small and lovely private “Snow Light Path” sites in every nook and cranny of the city. This fashion is prevailing year by year among the neighborhood associations, shopping streets, at schools, companies, hospitals, and individual families.