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February 3rd, 2017

Enjoying an Extremely Cold City – Asahikawa, Hokkaido

The city of Asahikawa in Hokkaido is known as one of the coldest places of the Japanese winter. Swahili service announcer Ahmed Salum from Tanzania visits Asahikawa to discover ways to enjoy the winter cold.

Reporter Ahmed Salum

Major Attractions and Events

The extremely cold city of Asahikawa

Asahikawa city set up an outdoor skate rink open only in winter in front of Asahikawa station. There is no entrance fee and the skates are also lent for free. In 2017, the rink is open for a month from January 13th.

The diamond dust is Asahikawa’s pride. Frozen water vapour floating in the air reflects the sunlight to produce a glittering effect. It can be seen soon after dawn on clear mornings when the temperature dips well below minus 10 degrees Celsius.

The Asahikawa Winter Festival which starts on February 7th features one of the world’s biggest snow sculptures. They are fully 20 metres tall and made from snow that has been cleared from roads. The equivalent of about 6,000 11-ton dump trucks loads of snow are brought to the roughly 70,000 square metre festival site.

The animals have a lively time in the cold of Japan’s most northerly zoo.

Asahikawa City Asahiyama Zoo is popular all over Japan for its unique behavioural exhibits. In the seal hall, the seals exhibit their vertical swimming behaviour up and down a one and a half metre diameter columnar water tank.

The penguin’s parade is the zoo’s most popular winter attraction. In nature, king penguins march down to sea in groups to fish. That behaviour is also tapped to give them some much needed winter exercise.

A peephole has been installed in the ground of the polar bear pen. Visitors can see the bears from the angle of a seal popping its head through a hole in the ice and being attacked by the bear.


Asahikawa is reached by a one hour forty minute flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Asahikawa Airport.

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