INTRODUCTION: Some parts of northern Japan have had their worst winter for nearly twenty years.
GV City of Sapporo.
GVs Workmen working on statues in snow. (5 SHOTS)
TOP SHOT City street under snow.
GV People arriving at festival.
GVs & SVs Snow sculptures. (5 SHOTS)
SV Onlookers. (2 SHOTS)
GVs Snow sculptures, including teddy bear. (3 SHOTS)
GV Snow sculpture. "Snow White", ZOOM IN TO child going down slide. (2 SHOTS)
CU Woman taking photograph, SV children. (2 SHOTS)
GV Child coming down slide. (2 SHOTS)
GV Clock tower at night (6.30 pm)
CU PULL OUT TO GV Snow sculpture of cock.
CU Snow sculpture of Pope.
GV Snow models of buildings.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Some parts of northern Japan have had their worst winter for nearly twenty years. Heavy snow has disrupted transport and electricity supplies, and made it difficult to get food through to remote areas. But what has been a major inconvenience to many has also been a source of great pleasure to some.
SYNOPSIS: The city of Sapporo is a famous ski resort, and winter sports enthusiasts have been enjoying an excellent season. It also holds a snow festival every year. For several weeks before the opening craftsmen are hard at work, making the exhibits: statues carved out of massive blocks of snow.
Odori Park, a broad promenade in the city centre, is the main site of the festival, which attracted nearly two million visitors this year. They came from the city itself, from other parts of Japan, and many from overseas as well.
There are nearly two hundred sculptures. They represent toys, characters from fairy tales and popular cartoons, carved from about 4,000 truckloads of snow brought in from the surrounding countryside. It's a child's delight; but many children find more fun in the festival's miniature version of a bobsled run - looking forward perhaps to the next time the Winter Olympics are held in Sapporo.
It is after dark that the festival turns spectacular, as coloured lights play on the snow creations. Not all are mere fantasy. Pope John Paul smiles benignly, among models of famous buildings of the world.