January 4, 2013

Shiramine Snowman Festival, Ishikawa prefecture

Filed under: Japan, photo — theresaurus @ 3:54 am



From Snow Country Tales, Life in the Other Japan by Suzuki Bokushi

“Born in the snow, raised in the snow, the children here have all sorts of snow games … . One of these pastimes is building snow castles. First the children build tall snow mounds. They pat them down with toy shovels and make the tops smooth and flat by stamping them down with their feet (children in the snow country always wear straw boots when playing in the snow). Next the children gather snow to make a great wall around the mound, just like the earthen wall that surrounds a village. Inside this main enclosure they build smaller walls, all of snow, and make entrances in them that lead from one ‘house’ to the next. In the great wall a main entrance is opened, and a ‘shrine’ is constructed inside the compound. Steps leading up to its ‘main hall’ are made from snow, as is the figure of the god of the shrine … . The children spread mats on the floors and make a cooking place in the snow as well, for you can start and keep a fire burning in the snow by scooping out a hollow and spreading a layer of rice bran in it. The entire construction is called a snow hall or a snow castle. The children gather inside the walls of the snow hall and cook food. Some of this they also present to the deity, and the rest they eat together. They play house in the little walled areas they have made, visiting other ‘families’ and playing all sorts of imaginative games. When they become tired of their snow castle, tearing it down becomes yet another great game. Sometimes they rally together and launch attacks on neighboring snow castles, built by other children in the same way; sometimes they live in peace. I was a great one for these snow games when I was a boy, and quite a little general during an attack. But now the years have slipped by, and those days seem as distant as a dream.”



  1. These are the loveliest little snowmen. Are these this years? They are so very cheerful.

    Comment by Cecilia — January 4, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

    • These are from three years ago, I’ve been raiding the archives. Last night I asked Sam if we could steal the company car (it has snow tires) like we did at New Year’s and take a trip to see snow and he said yes, he really wants to visit snow country again. I’m excited.

      Comment by theresaurus — January 4, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

  2. Your blog is the only place I have seen the Shiramine Festival. It’s magnificent. A car trip is much better than the train; the train there is too much condensation & too little flexibility to stop… Looking forward to the pics! More snowmen!

    Comment by Cecilia — January 5, 2013 @ 3:47 am

    • I found one blog that has an interesting post about the festival. The Lobster Dance (, the post is from 2010/02/17 called “A Love Song in the Melting Snow.” She must’ve been there at the same time Sam was! I didn’t know that each family in the town has to make a sculpture. When I saw her post she calls it the snow sculpture festival and I felt stupid because I didn’t want to call it the snowman festival because sexist but that’s the official name and I couldn’t think of another word. Sculpture.

      Comment by theresaurus — January 5, 2013 @ 4:05 am

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