Yukigassen – Competitive Snowball Fighting from Japan

If you grew up in a place where it snowed, you probably would have mastered the art of throwing snowballs. Bet no one thought much of your talent back then. Too bad you never heard of Yukigassen, a snowball fighting competition that is held in Japan every year, and now in other parts of the world as well.

Yukigassen, literally meaning “snow battle”, originated around 20 years ago as a marketing scheme. The Mount Showa-Shinzan resort wanted to attract more tourists in the winter, so they devised this game, which certainly sounds like it could be a lot of fun. It is being described as a combination of chess, paintball and backyard brawling. The objective of the game is pretty simple. Players of the opposing team need to be knocked out with snowballs. But of course, there are more technicalities involved. For instance, the field on which Yukigassen is played is a 44 X 12 yard rectangle divided by red and blue lines, similar to the layout of a hockey rink. Three periods, three minutes in duration each, constitute the match. The team that wins two out of three is ultimately the winner of the match. A period could either be won by having more standing players than the team at the opposite end, or by capturing the other team’s flag without getting hit by their snowballs.

Photo by Roy Neese/ACVB

Currently, there are over 2,000 Yukigassen teams in Japan alone. The sport is gaining momentum worldwide too, especially in the United States. In fact, the 2011 US National Championship was held in Anchorage, Alaska, and the Canadian Championship in Edmonton, Alberta. Shippagan, New Brunswick is also expected to have a tournament in Feb 2012. At this rate, it may not be long before Yukigassen becomes a part of the Winter Olympics!

Photo by Roy Neese/ACVB

Photo by Roy Neese/ACVB

Photo by Roy Neese/ACVB

Photo by Roy Neese/ACVB


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