Disney is making a live-action “Mulan” film!

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 Audrey Magazine:

As an Asian American woman who grew up in the 90’s, it almost feels cliche to say Mulan is my favorite Disney princess, but there’s no denying it. I can still remember the first time I watched the VHS tape of Mulan and the way I instantly felt a kinship with her that I couldn’t feel with the other Disney princesses. This princess was strong, brave and she was the first Asian Disney character I had ever seen on a screen. After I proceeded to watch the movie upwards of a hundred times, I convinced my parents to buy me a Mulan doll and the Mulan Halloween costume. After all, Mulan was “my girl.” So when I read today’s news, I felt both excited and terrified.

After the success of the live-action films Cinderella and Maleficent, Disney announced that they have plans to develop a live-action version of Mulan. In fact, they already have a script written by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek. However, there is no set date yet, and Disney has a full slate of upcoming live-action films including Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland 2 and Dumbo.

Despite my soft spot for Mulan, I am naturally worried that some elements may not translate well to live-action (I’m looking at you, Mushu). But overall, curiosity and nostalgia win out. We’ve already seen a live-action bisexual Mulan, played by Jamie Chung in Once Upon A Time. How will the live-action film compare? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

 

Japanese teen whose chalkboard art went viral gets an art commission before a high school diploma

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RocketNews24:

A while back, we took a look at an amazing piece of artwork by student and Twitter user Rena Rena. Almost finished with her last year of high school, Rena realized her opportunities to indulge in youthful abandon were about to become that much scarcer, so she grabbed a piece of chalk and drew an amazing scene of Frozen’s Elsa standing on a snowy mountaintop.

Two months later, it looks like Rena’s life has indeed become so busy that she has no time for such ambitious amateur chalkboard art projects. On the bright side, that’s because she’s now doing professional chalkboard art, having been commissioned to create the cover to the newest book from one of Japan’s most celebrated fantasy authors.

Even if you’re not an avid reader of Japanese literature, you may have some experience with the works of Miyuki Miyabe. A recipient of both the Naoki and Yamamoto Shugoro Prizes, the Tokyo native has had a handful of her works adapted to TV and film. Among her titles best known to Western audiences is Brave Story, a 2003 fantasy novel that served as the basis for an anime theatrical feature, manga, and video games.

Publisher Kadokawa is just about to release Miyabe’s newest book, The Castle of Kingdom Gone (Sugisarishi Okoku no Shiro in Japanese). Amazon Japan describes the novel as centered on a pair of middle school students who come across a mysterious sketching of an old castle, and discover they can enter its world by adding pictures of themselves to the drawing.

Between Miyabe’s renown and Kadokawa’s financial resources, they probably could have taken their pick of artists for the novel’s cover, and the pick they made was Rena.

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As Rena revealed in this tweet, she’s landed a professional project even before leaving high school. While her Frozen fan art was lighting up social media, it caught the attention of Kadokawa’s executives, who decided “Her art would be perfect for Miyabe’s new book,” and approached the teen to formally offer her the position of cover artist.

▼ Kadokawa tweeted this side-by-side comparison of Rena’s inadvertent job application and the drawing she made for The Castle of Kingdom Gone.

 

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And here’s how the final cover will look.

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Amazon Japan is currently taking preorders here for the book, which is priced at 1,728 yen (US$15) and scheduled for release on April 24. Ordinarily, we’d say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but as for judging this cover itself, it’s an awesome piece of artwork, and perhaps just the first step in Rena’s budding artistic career.

Village in Taiwan has dozens of anime and children’s characters painted on its houses!

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RocketNews 24:

Don’t you agree that our surroundings influence our mood? Being in a bright, vibrant environment usually makes one feel more positive and happy, and the positive energy in us in turn has the power to influence the mood of others around us.

A small village in Tainan City of Taiwan has been attracting attention online and attracting visitors because of the cheerful vibes that emanate from its brightly colored walls. With walls covered in colorful paintings of SpongeBob, Totoro, Doraemon and other characters and motifs, there’s no doubt this village must be a happy place!

Now more famously known as Cai Hui Cun (彩繪村), which literally means “painted village,” Hujia Village, located in the Shanhua District of southern Taiwan, used to be a quiet, rundown district until about a year ago. Since then it has blossomed into a vibrant tourist spot that continues to see an increasing number of visitors each day, and it’s said that property prices have even risen, thanks to its brilliantly painted walls. What’s more impressive than the numerous wall murals is the fact that this amazing transformation started with a home project that stemmed from the filial piety of five sisters.

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According to Yahoo News Taiwan, some time last year, the Li sisters, who spent a couple of their childhood years living in Hujia Village, went back to the village to visit their grandmother. The trip back to the old village brought back fond memories of when their grandmother used to care for them, and that triggered Fan Ting Li’s inspiration to paint the outer walls of her grandmother’s house as a way to express her gratitude to her 86-year-old granny.

With no experience or training in painting wall murals, the Li sisters had a rough start. The elderly woman watched with worry as Fan Ting and her sisters, Hui Qing, Guan Yu, Qing Yan and Wei Zhen, spent long hours under the scorching sun, and asked her “silly granddaughters” to give up on the idea several times, but the sisters were determined to complete their project.

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Residents of the village gazed upon them with curiosity and doubt at first, but were eventually moved by their passion, and some even volunteered to join them. Their little home project gradually spread throughout the village, and their painting team once grew to the size of 18 members coming from all walks of life, including an eight-year-old elementary school girl.

▼ Western influences

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Watching as the voluntary painting team contributed their time, effort and money to beautifying their village, the other villagers too, often contributed to their cause by bringing them snacks and beverages. There have also been private companies that donated items to aid in the decoration of the walls, but due to the residents’ limited funds, they narrowed down their mural locations to the houses of elderly residents who lived alone, hoping to brighten up their days.

▼ Japanese anime characters

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Since word of the painted village spread across cyberspace, tourists from near and far have begun visiting the village, not only bringing some liveliness to the once-sleepy place, but boosting profits for local businesses as well. The local authorities have since acknowledged the efforts put into Hujia Village, and have given their word to contribute to the beautifying and expansion of the painted village.

▼ Chinese motifs.

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The Li sisters and their team of mural maestros can still be spotted creating more wall paintings in the village on weekends. If you’re interested in stopping by, the location details are below! Although the area has pretty much turned into a tourism spot, bear in mind that these murals are painted on actual residences, so it would only be nice to show some consideration for their residents, just as you probably wouldn’t appreciate strangers littering or creating a racket outside your house.

Village information:
台南市善化區胡家里300號 (陽明國小)
Tainan City, Shanhua District, 300 Hujia Village (Yang Ming Elementary School)
*Note: The Painted Village is in the vicinity of the elementary school.

 

Look out for this school as a landmark to guide you to the Painted Village.

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The hidden, scientifically accurate backstory of Tokyo Disney Sea’s volcano

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RocketNews 24:

Tokyo Disney Resort, as anyone can tell you, is a land of magic and whimsy. As we’ve shown before, it’s also somewhere you can experience the pinnacle of attentive service, whether you’re an inattentive motorist or a lost cat. But did you know that in addition to all that, Tokyo Disney Sea is actually a place that you can enjoy for its subtle yet precise depictions of natural science?

It’s true, as explained by one Japanese Twitter user who’s uncovered and documented the geological principles behind one of the park’s most iconic features.

It’s safe to say Twitter user Shohei Nanri’s inquisitive mind works a little differently than most people’s. On a recent trip to Disney Sea, Nanri decided to search for ways to enjoy the park not as a star-struck animation fan, but as a scientist. He wasted no time, noticing that the globe in the center of the fountain outside the ticket booth has no tilt to its access.

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But while that’s a miss in the scientific accuracy department, things quickly improved once inside the park itself. First stopping by the knowledge-themed Fortress Exploration complex, Nanri observed the castle’s Foucault pendulum, which knocks over a series of pins during the day due to the rotation of the earth.

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And while he’s not sure if Disney’s Imagineers planned it or not, Nanri found a waterfall in the walkway linking the Mermaid Lagoon and Mysterious Island Sections of the park (directly opposite the gyoza dog concession stand) where the light refracts into a rainbow at precisely 12 noon on sunny days.

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But where things start to get really interesting is inside Mysterious Island, the design of which is, ironically, remarkably sensible if you know the science behind it.

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The most dynamic feature of the area is Mount Prometheus, a constantly smoldering volcano that soars some 51 meters (167.3 feet) above guests’ heads. Much as Cinderella’s Castle is the symbol of Tokyo Disneyland, Mount Prometheus is the first image that comes to mind for many when they think of Disney Sea. Its non-Japanese name isn’t just a quick way to add a bit of worldly flair, though.

As Nanri explains, the lava of most Japanese volcanoes is highly viscous, so once its destructive path is halted, it tends to harden into symmetrical masses. But take a look at the volcanic runoff at Disney Sea.

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Those ropy, coiled formations are the product of a low-viscosity lava flow, closer to the pahoehoe style seen in other countries than Japan’s indigenous a’a lava flows. As such, it stand to reason that Mount Prometheus isn’t a Japanese volcano, and therefore it wouldn’t make sense for it to have a Japanese name.

But that’s just the start of the tale Disney Sea’s lava has to tell. Looking at the map, we can see that following an eruption, some of Mount Prometheus’ lava would flow towards the shoreline that separates it from the Mediterranean Harbor.

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The molten rock would cool as it travelled, and Nanri explains that once it did, it could solidify in hexagonal columns, which is exactly what you can see near the waterfront.

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That’s not the only effect an eruption would have on the surrounding landscape, though. The entrances to both of Mysterious Island’s rides, Journey to the Center of the Earthand 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, owe the look of their entrances and line-up areas to the nearby volcanic activity.

▼ Locations of Journey to the Center of the Earth (1) and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (2)

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Let’s start with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, where parkgoers hop aboard a vessel and become part of Captain Nemo’s crew of explorers.

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You might notice the sunken body of water is surrounded by craggy rock formations. How come? Because, as Nanri explains, it’s a crater lake formed by a steam explosion, which explains why you can still see some sort of gas fizzing to the surface of the water in the above photo.

However, the scientific significance is deepest, appropriately, at Journey to the Center of the Earth.

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Given the theme of the attraction, it’s no surprise that the entrance leads guests through a cave. This isn’t just any cave, though. Coming back once again to that low-viscosity lava, the thinner consistency means that even as the top layer of the flow comes into contact with the air, cools, and hardens, the lower layers can stay in motion, in the process forming a tunnel just like the ones the line for the ride snakes through.

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In the case of repeated eruptions, the next lava flow would come through and melt away the hardened rock, making the cavity larger and also creating the shelf-like ripples on its walls.

Of course, while this is the scientific way in which the tunnel would form, it’s still not a controlled, entirely stable method. A lack of structural integrity in spots is to be expected, which accounts for the skylight-like openings that can be occasionally seen overhead.

Finally, Nanri leaves us with one last example of attention to minute details.

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Looking up at those streaks of discoloration, you might think it’s just accumulated grime, or maybe water staining. It’s neither, though, according to Anri, who points out that this is what would happen as the sulfur deposits which melted in the lava flow later recrystallize.

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel set to enchant guests with new character themed rooms

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RocketNews 24:

We all know that the people at Disney are masters of enchantment and magic. Well, it seems they’ve done it again, this time putting their formidable powers of imagination to full use to renovate part of their rooms at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. For the first time since its opening in 2008, rooms at the iconic hotel have been redone and were opened to the public this week. As you might expect, the new rooms indeed look magical, worthy of the Disney reputation for turning fantasy into reality. So, let’s take a look at the lovely rooms designed to make guests feel like they’ve stepped into a Disney story!

Of the 706 rooms in the hotel, 182 have been renovated into new, character-themed rooms, and we have to say the pictures they’ve released are enough to get you feeling giddy and excited, even if you’re not a little girl obsessed with all things Disney.

Here are the three types of character rooms that opened at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel on February 14:

Disney’s Tinker Bell Room

The beautiful world of Pixie Hollow from the film Tinker Bell is recreated in these lushly colored rooms. The decor featuring the large flowers and plants of Tinker Bell’s home in Neverland just might make you believe in fairies again!

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Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Room

These rooms are based on Disney’s classic Alice in Wonderland film. The playful and sometimes twisted themes of the movie are evident in the interior and furniture that feature well-known motifs such as the Queen of Hearts, the Card Soldiers and of course, the Cheshire Cat.

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Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Room

Disney’s beloved musical film Beauty and the Beast serves as the theme for these rooms. The interior design brings to mind some of the memorable moments from the film, including the scene where the Beast shows Belle his magnificent library and also the famous dance scene in the ballroom. Other familiar characters from the castle also appear as design motifs.

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Don’t the rooms look amazing? We can totally understand if Disney fans are dying to stay in these new character rooms.

Ah, we almost forgot! There’s one more room that’s scheduled to open on March 18, the Disney’s Cinderella Room. Although Disney didn’t have any actual photos of the room in their press release, they did have an illustration showing the lovely blue interior decorated in the color of Cinderella’s ball gown. You’re bound to feel as special as a guest at the castle ball in this room, and the best part is that the magic won’t go away at the stroke of midnight!

▼An illustration of how the Cinderella Room is expected to lookCinderella Room

Naturally, these splendid rooms come at a price: the 47 Tinker Bell Rooms and 63 Alice in Wonderland Rooms, both approximately 40 square meters (323 square feet) in size, are available at prices between 45,200 yen and 75,000 yen  (US$380-$631) per night; the 52 Beauty and the Beast rooms between 51-61 square meters (549-657 square feet) in size are priced from 52,400 yen to 84,300 yen ($441-$710) per night; and the 20 Cinderella Rooms, 71 square meters (764 square feet), will cost from 56,900 yen to 97,600 yen ($479-$822) per night, with prices depending on the dates and number of people staying.

Guests can make reservations up to six months before their expected date of stay. Regardless of the prices, Disneyland hotel rooms are notoriously difficult to book, due to  extremely high demand, and we expect that the competition to get reservations for these new characters rooms will be fierce.

Still, we have to admit the rooms offer a great opportunity to enjoy a break from reality and feel like you’re living in the world of your favorite Disney movie, and that, we guess, is an experience you can’t put a price on.

Resort in Philippines has literally giant Gundam rip-off, plus Disney and Marvel knockoffs galore

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RocketNews 24:

Although the Philippines have plenty of seaside travel destinations, Jed’s Island Resort isn’t one of them. Being located in the landlocked municipality of Calumpit means that while Jed’s isn’t far from Manila Bay, it doesn’t have any coastline to call its own.

That’s OK, though, because you can still relax in one of the resort’s nine advertised swimming pools. And while you may not be able to enjoy listening to the sound of the waves, you will be able to look up at Jed’s gigantic Gundam statue that’s as tall as the one in Tokyo yet far, far skinnier. Not into anime? Not a problem! Jed’s is also home to beloved characters from Disney, Marvel, and DC…or at least their disturbingly off-model, knockoff doppelgangers.

The facility’s grounds used to be a private estate, but were opened to guests as Jed’s Island Resort in 1995. The resort’s website boasts that “During its five summers of existence, Jed’s has welcomed actors and actresses, singers, and band members from showbiz as its guest.” Ordinarily, we’d write the use of “guest” off as a typo, but considering that the reference to Jed’s five summers of existence is on a web page updated in 2014, nearly 20 years after the resort’s opening, it’s possible the management simply isn’t very good at math.

But hey, who needs statistical accuracy when you’ve got the most iconic giant robot in the history of Japanese animation, the RX-78-2 Gundam!

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Wow…looks like Gundam needs a sandwich. Or, seeing as how he’s in the Philippines, maybe a plate of lechon, the local variety of suckling pig. The robot is looking so skinny that we’re surprised it can still stand, and also so anemic that there’s no way it could survive an attack by the bellicose Zeon forces.

Gundam is so gaunt that at first glance it seems like the photo is the product of a weird camera lens, but the proportions of the woman standing between his feet aren’t warped at all.

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As further proof, here’s the anorexic mobile suit from a different angle that reveals more of its narrow dimensions.

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Still, this is a pretty gutsy move by Jed’s designers. Non-official wonky physique and large letter J on its crotch, that’s clearly and literally a huge Gundam rip-off. We’re sure executives at Bandai, the company which holds the licensing rights to all things Gundam, aren’t happy about it. If it’s any consolation, though, Bandai’s lawyers should bear in mind that Jed’s Island Resort isn’t just ripping off Gundam, they’re ripping off everybody!

Well, maybe not everybody, but that only seems to be because there’s not enough space for a project of that magnitude. Still, Jed’s has done an impressive job of filling its property with as many unlicensed likenesses as it can hold. The resort isn’t shy about this, either, at least in the case of these two photos from its Facebook page, which are excitedly touted as “New attraction-One Piece at Jed’s! and Big Hero 6 Robot Baymax!”

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Among Frozen’s many crowd-pleasing aspects, some fans were thrilled to see a Disney movie with two princesses. But apparently the special Jed’s edition of the film features no less than three royal ladies.

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Elsewhere, Jed’s gets the number of siblings just right. Can’t say the same about their facial features, though.

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▼ Elsa must be hitting the gym regularly to have added that much muscle definition to her shoulders. She’s apparently become so addicted to the pump from lifting weights that she’s curling half a head of cabbage.

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Going from Disney’s newest hit characters to their oldest, here’s Mickey and pals Goofy, Donald, and Mickey Clones 1 through 3, plus rival Bugs Bunny, all posing in front of a brachiosaur.

 

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We’re guessing some older, hand-drawn cartoon characters must look down on their nouveau rich CG counterparts. How else could you explain why the heroes of Avatar were left out of the Disney/Warner Bros. group photo?

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Of course, not all classic animated characters are so set in their ways. For example, Snow White has expanded her social circle beyond her seven stout housemates, and is seen here in the company of 1977 anime mecha Voltes V.

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As a matter of fact, Jed’s Island Resort seems to be all about crossovers, like this snapshot of the Sesame Street gang hanging out with Mother Goose.

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Awesome as it is to see Superman and Captain America in the same place, it’d still be cooler if they were fighting.

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Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Wonder Woman seem to have climbed all the way to the top of the water slide tower before losing their nerve to actually go down it.

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Legalities aside, we can at least see why the management of Jed’s Island Resort would want to decorate their pools with these instantly recognizable and hugely popular characters. They may have been a little too zealous in their efforts to copy as much as possible, though. For example, can you imagine any travelers picking where to stay according to which resort has the cast of free mobile game Clash of Clans?

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But even then, Jed’s “creative” team wasn’t done scraping the bottom of the barrel, because you haven’t exhausted every option until you’ve made a knock-off based on the cover 1980’s flight disaster satire Airplane!

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The 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival

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RocketNews 24:

Every February in Hokkaido brings another amazing display of artful snow and ice carvings, and RocketNews24 brings a firsthand account of the 66th annual Sapporo Snow Festival.

This year has already brought a couple of exciting stories from the festival. Whether it was soulless snow sculptures or an imposing Sith Lord, the Sapporo Snow Festival always gives you something to talk about.

The Yubari Melon Mascot! The only terrifying mascot in Japan.

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Although the city of Sapporo is very large, the sites for the festival are not that far apart. Especially the two sites that feature most of the incredible snow and ice artwork are within minutes of each other, making a lot of the festival easily accessible.

Susukino Ice World 2015, was where the ice sculpture competition pieces were shown. With plenty of amazing entries this year, it’s a wonder how the judges were able to pick just four sculptures as winners.

Overall winner of the ice sculpture contest!

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Odori Park was home to all the major installation snow works, including the international snow carving competition. Representatives from many countries were working very hard to complete their sculpture within the three days allowed.

Indonesia

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New Zealand

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Darth Vader and his imperial Storm Troopers might be out to steal the show, but there were plenty of other really incredible sculptures on display in Odori Park.

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For the smaller sculptures, a quick glance at them revealed a few pretty obvious themes.

Yokai Watch

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Frozen

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Studio Ghibli

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Parasyte

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The third site of the snow festival, the Sapporo Community Dome, had its share of snow art as well, but people came here to play in and with the snow, rather than admire it. The standout winner was definitely the Nissin sponsored “tube sliding” with lengthy lines right up until closing.

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Travel between the sites was really easy, with a shuttle bus running to the sites that was cheaper than taking the subway.

Night time provided a unique opportunity to show off for the crowd, performances graced the stages in front of the huge snow sculptures until the closing of each day.  The Star Wars stage had its own light show which repeated every 15 minutes.

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The real winner of the night was the projection mapping upon the Kasuga Grand Shrine sculpture, though.

If you haven’t gotten enough of the snow festival yet, here are a few more pictures to make you wish you were able to be there yourself. Enjoy!

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