Association mulls pulling ‘Frozen Fish’ display from Sapporo Snow Festival

A tourist association could pull its “Frozen Fish” display it runs for the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido
A tourist association could pull its “Frozen Fish” display it runs for the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido (

HOKKAIDO (TR) – Since 1984, the annual Sapporo Snow Festival has featured crab, salmon and other local sea life encased in blocks of ice. But the long-standing tradition could come to an end in the wake of fallout from a theme park that froze 5,000 fish into an ice skating rink.

The Susukino Tourist Association, which hosts the “Frozen Fish” exhibit at the festival featuring sea life native to Hokkaido frozen into clear blocks of ice, held a meeting to decide how the exhibit should be handled, the Asahi Shimbun reports (Dec. 18).

Outraged netizens blasted Space World, a theme park in Kitakyushu City, over its skating rink attraction featuring some 5,000 fish frozen into the ice as cruel and disrespectful to life.

Inundated with scathing comments on its Facebook page, a Space World worker explained that the fish used for the seasonal exhibit were unfit for retail sale. Enlarged photos of larger creatures such as whale sharks embedded in the ice were also mistaken to be real. Space World announced this month that it will close in 2017.

A member of the Susukino Tourist Association said the organization has never received complaints that their frozen fish display was cruel.

“In the end, the frozen fish display is for viewing, it’s different from a skating rink where fish are basically being trampled on,” the association member said. “Criticism that this is cruel is off here, and it might even be an over-reaction.”

Takao Hoshino, chairman of the snow festival organizing committee, said the snow festival is “an event that shows strong public colors.”

“Tradition is important, but I believe there’s also demand for changing with the times and listening to the voice of the public,” Hoshino said.

Masa Kumagai, secretary general of the Susukino Tourist Association, said he “hopes to make a judgment by listening carefully to the views of our members, since there are pros and cons.”

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