The Tsunan Snow Festival takes place in March each year and we were lucky enough to go along on March 12th 2016. It is so popular that there is a whole series of different parking areas and shuttle buses to get you to the New Greenpia Tsunan festival location.
During the day there is freestyle competition and then some big name musicians providing live music on the stage. Refreshments are provided at a large selection of food stalls.
The highlight for many though is the Sky Lanterns. There are long queues of people trying to get hold of these lanterns before the set launch time. As darkness falls everyone makes their way outside onto the ski slopes and starts to unpack the lanterns. These are large paper balloons with a small amount of burnable fuel suspended underneath them. Once alight the hot air fills the balloon and the flame lights it up. With enough hot air these float up into the winter night sky.
From the Tsunan Yuki Matsuri site
The launch is carefully coordinated and everyone tries to set their lanterns off at about the same time. As they all drift skywards it is a really beautiful sight. We were really lucky as well in that there was light snow falling which looked like glitter in the light of the lanterns.
This is a popular festival with a car park full of tour buses from surrounding towns. Even if you aren’t staying in Tsunan itself it might still be possible to come across and witness the amazing festival for yourself. Drop the Snow Country Tourist Info a line for more information if you are keen to go.