Otaru Snow Light Path is a festival that lasts for
10 days with lanterns made of snow adorning different
areas of the city.
The Otaru Snow Light Path began in 1999 and enjoys about 500,000 visitors during the 10 days it last. This event occurs at the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival, but if you are looking for a relaxing snow activity then this is the one to go to. The organizers want visitors to feel at ease and think leisurely surrounded by the glow of the candlelight. They want people to forget their problems of their everyday life and reflect on themselves with a clear mind. It is more meant to be a spiritual event rather than commercially orientated one. The lanterns for the Snow Light Path Festival are all made by hand with the help of volunteers that are both local international. They work in the bitter cold relighting candles throughout the area, but they gain an affinity for what they are doing. The candles are lit from 17:00 to 21:00 daily during the 10 days. They say the festival provides a nice romantic atmosphere so it would be great to bring your loved one here too.
The Otaru Snow Light Path has two main areas to visit. The Unga Kaijo and Temiyasen Kaijo are within 15 minutes of each other so it is possible to go to both the areas. The Unga Kaijo is by the Otaru canal and covers about 300 meters worth of street. This area has gas lamps lining up against the canal with restored warehouses, which are either restaurants, shops, cafes, workshops etc. Not only is the Unga Kaijo decorated with the handmade lanterns, but the canal is also adorned with candles. It adds to the romantic effect the space provides to visitors. Unga Kaijo is a 10 minute walk from Otaru station along the main road. The other area you can go to is in between train station and Otaru Canal called Temiyasen Kaijo. This is where the tracks of the abolished Temiyasen railway line and covers about half a kilometer. Here there are different pathways you can experience including the now tunnel, which is illuminated by many candles. However these are not the only areas where you can see snow lanterns and statues. Another site to visit is the Asariawa Hot Spring Village Site is located on the outskirts, but it is referred to as “The River Site,” for the Otaru Snow Light Path. They use the snow covered and place candles in them combining nature and light. If you wander around Otaru you can see the ones made by the locals for their home, restaurant or fun.
Please see below for tours that include Otaru Snow Light Path: