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Get cool as summer moves in

by Kai Harada

Staff Writer

As summer approaches there’s a chance some people have already switched on their fans or air-conditioners, even though you can still build snowmen in Tokyo.

This weekend, visitors to Ueno Park can enjoy a dusting of artificial snow and ice at the Tokyo Ice Festival. But with the fake white stuff comes some real fun: sledding, snowball fights and ice sculptures are among the activities you can take part in.

Adults can also get refreshed with drinks from an ice bar that features an especially cool invention — glasses and mugs also made of ice.

For the more artistic, an ice-sculpture contest will begin at 12 noon. Visitors will be able to watch artisans create their sculptures live. If, on the odd chance you start getting parched while watching the sculpture contest, there will also be a shaved-ice-eating tournament at the main stage.

The festival is an annual summer event (though last year it was canceled due to the Great East Japan Earthquake) organized by the Tokyo Cooperative Wholesale Ice Association. The association’s main purpose is to provide some publicity for their Junhyo product, which is rendered in English as “pure ice.” It takes 48 hours to make such ice and the company says one of the biggest differences between normal, homemade ice and their product is transparency; pure ice winds up being as clear as glass whereas normal ice is somewhat cloudy.

The Tokyo Ice Festival takes place in Ueno Park’s Takanodai Square in Taito-ku, Tokyo, on June 10. The festival goes from 10:30 a.m. till 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (03) 3251-4865 or visit www.tokyoicenet.or.jp (Japanese only).