The Sapporo Snow Festival drew 2.39 million visitors through Sunday, with an organizer saying attendance has recovered to pre-pandemic levels after the removal of coronavirus measures.

It is the first time in four years the annual festival, one of the country's biggest winter events, was held at full scale, using three locations in the capital of Hokkaido in northern Japan.

Photo taken on Feb. 11, 2024, shows large snow sculpture of characters from popular anime series Golden Kamuy. (Copyright Satoru Noda/Shueisha, Golden Kamuy Project)(Kyodo)

The recovery of visitor numbers has been helped by inbound travelers to Japan, according to the festival's executive committee.

The event regularly attracted over 2 million people annually before the coronavirus pandemic, but the global health emergency forced organizers to hold the festival virtually in 2021 and 2022.

It was held on a reduced scale last year, drawing 1.75 million visitors, according to the festival's website. This year it ran for eight days starting Feb. 4, with about 190 snow and ice sculptures on display.

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