Hokkaido Heritage - "Showa Shizan International Snowball Fight" (Sobetsu)
Snowball fights are a winter past-time enjoyed in many countries around the world. For those who grew up with snowy winters, many fond memories are made by packing a snowball and chucking it at a friend. In Southern Hokkaido's Sobetsu Town, located at the foot of Mt. Showa Shizan, this child's game has been transformed into a serious sport. Adopting a strict set of rules, international teams come in to battle in an official "Yukigassen" (snowball fight) tournament.
▲ Although it is based off a child's game, this battle is quite serious!
One team consists of nine players and one team manager. In this game the only way to protect yourself from enemy snowballs are by using one of the seven snow shelters scattered around the field for cover, or by attacking with snowballs you create with your own hands. If you're hit, you're out, so speed is essential. There are two ways to win the game, either by getting all you opponents out, or by capturing the enemy flag. The snowballs are made using a special tool, which resembles an "Takoyaki" (octopus ball) maker. If you get a chance to sit on the sidelines and watch, you're sure to be drawn in by the intense action on the field.
▲ This "Snowball Maker" is a unique tool created in Sobetsu!
The event was first thought up as a way to promote winter season tourism in the town. Some of the youth in the town wisely proposed having a giant "snowball fight" and it grew from there. After gathering funds there was an intense period of management and development. Rules were devised and a snowball maker was designed and manufactured using trial and error, all by the local residents of the town. Their passions and ideals have helped drive this competition forward and have gotten the attention of many overseas teams.
▲ All participants, even those from abroad, begin their games with a bow to their opponents.
For more information about the event, and for information about next year's tournament, check out the homepage below!
＜Showa Shizan International Snowball Fight Official Homepage＞
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - T・H)
(Photographs provided by Showa Shizan International Snowball Fight Executive Committee)