Rikubetsu, known as the coldest town in Japan, will hold its annual Shibare Festival on Feb. 4-5, 2023, featuring the well-known "human cold resistance test," as well as a new "human off road race" to mark the event's 40th anniversary of braving the extreme freezing temperatures of Hokkaido.

Photo shows fireworks launched during the Shibare Festival in February 2020.

The town-run festival, which was canceled in 2021 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held at the Uenbetsu event square. "Shibare" is an expression in the Hokkaido dialect to refer to severe cold weather.

Participants of the "human cold resistance test" are expected to spend about 10 hours in temperatures around minus 25 C from 9 p.m. on Feb. 4, either in a "kamakura" ice igloo approximately 2.5 meters in diameter, or a self-brought tent.

Meanwhile, the "human off road race" will take place on Feb. 5, with one division for children and another for high school students and older. Contestants will race on a snow-covered course, tackling various challenges to reach the goal such as sledding down a slope on sacks and gobbling up shaved ice.

Taiki Yoda, a manager at the Rikubetsu municipal government's industry promotion division, said, "We hope participants will come experience the unique coldness here and bring home plenty of special memories."

The Hokkaido Shimbun Press

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