Whale ice sculpture warms Japanese hearts

11 February 2009

Sapporo Snow Festival 2009Japan's annual Sapporo Snow Festival is a big event on the country's winter calendar – attracting millions of visitors from around the country. This year, Greenpeace Japan contributed an ice sculpture highlighting the importance of conserving marine life such as whales. Sachiyo Tanahashi, from our Japan office, tells us about the very warm reception they received from visitors. "Sapporo Snow Festival is the famous winter-time event in Japan. Last year, over 1.2 million people came, including many foreigners. Having our new Greenpeace Communication Centre in Aomori, which is close to Sapporo, we decided it would be a good opportunity to introduce ourselves to locals and explain the nature of our work. Particularly our work protecting whales and other marine life. We designed an ice sculpture that featured a whale, a dolphin, a dugong, a sea turtle and two tuna fish ... all of which were swimming around an icy globe lit with blue light. It's about 4 metres wide and 2 metres high. It's exciting seeing our two-dimensional image transformed into 3D reality. And it was loved by the public. The most exciting part for me is seeing how the crowds really got into the sculpture, taking so many pictures. We don't have to ask them to take pictures, they want to take pictures in front of it. Fantastic! A festival guard told us our presentation was one of the most popular." See how the sculpture was made and what Japanese visitors had to say about whaling in the video below.