Giant snow sculpture on display at Asahikawa winter festival in northern Japan

Tourists and locals have gathered to see a giant snow sculpture at a winter festival in the northern Japanese city of Asahikawa.

The Asahikawa Winter Festival draws about 1 million people, and is marking its 65th anniversary this year.

A variety of snow sculptures are on display on a riverbed of the Ishikari River that flows through central Asahikawa. The largest one is 140 meters wide and 20 meters tall. It depicts characters from the popular Dragon Quest video game series and Asahikawa City's mascots, "Asappy" and "Yukkirin." Visitors admired the giant sculpture and took photos.

Foreign visitors also enjoyed a 100-meter-long slide made of ice.

A man from Thailand said he was surprised by the size of the main sculpture. He said he was happy to see it because he likes Dragon Quest.

The event organizers say the festival is being held on about the same scale as before the coronavirus pandemic, with food stalls set up for the first time in four years.

Inotani Kazuhiko of the city's tourism office says the festival is full of winter attractions, such as the giant snow sculpture and icy slide, and he hopes many people will enjoy them.

The festival will continue through February 12.