As a unique combat sport, Yukigassen pits competitors against one another using snowballs. “Snow war” is the precise translation of the Japanese word. Japanese ingenuity gave rise to a sport that is now popular across Oceania and even in some European countries.
This article will explain the rules of snowball fighting, describe its history, and tell you about the yearly snowball fighting championships. Ok, let’s just jump in.
History of Yokigassen
Sports Yukigassen was born out of the renaissance of Sobetsu-Cho in Usu-gun, Hokkaido. Mount Usu and Mount Showa Shinzan tower over this town that sits on the southeastern edge of Lake Toya. Vacationers flock to Lake Toya and Showa Shinzan in the summer to take in the area’s stunning natural beauty. But when it snows in the winter, the number of visitors drops dramatically, and the town becomes very quiet.
Sobetsu-young chose people, in 1987, who debated a number of potential ways to enliven their sleepy neighborhood. Let’s make a city that can bring life to the area, even in the dead of winter! At this point, the idea for “Sports Yukigassen” was formed. In 1988, everyone involved agreed upon and set the ground rules. The “1st Showa Shinzan International Yukigassen” was held at Sobetsu-Cho in 1989, and it was the first sports Yukigassen event ever.
Once that happened, Sports Yukigassen caught on all over Japan and beyond. Sports Yukigassen has rapidly expanded internationally, thanks to the proliferation of tournaments and competitions.
What is Yukigassen
The term “Yuki” means “snow” in Japanese, and the word “keen” means “war,” so the name “Yukigassen” is a combination of these two concepts. Yukigassen, which literally means “Japan Snowball Tournament,” is a snowball-throwing competition that got its start in Japan. Since then, the game’s popularity has spread to Norway, Australia, Sweden, and Canada.
Equipment for Yukigassen
The flags the teams create are 50 cm by 70 cm in size.
Yuki Gassen Headgear
Yukigassen helmets are specially made to shield the head from the cold and heavy rounds while yet allowing the wearer a clean field of view for marking.
- The snowballs’ diameters range from 6.5-7 centimeters, and 90 snowballs are used in each set.
- Some snowballs are not allowed because they are either too little (less than two-thirds of an inch in diameter) or because their owners left the court, entered from outside of it, or both.
- As soon as a player uses a bad snowball, they are eliminated.
- Adding more snow, reassembling an existing snowball, or making a new snowball while play is in progress are all examples of snowballs that are considered illegal.
- If you make a snowball without permission, you’re out.
- Snowballs can be passed to other players in a number of different methods, including by handing them to them, placing them on the ground, rolling them into the court, or leaving them in a makeshift shelter or Chateau.
The term “snowball maker” refers to a piece of equipment that can create several snowballs at once. (Fun fact: a typical yukigassen battle requires more than 270 snowballs. You can only make 45 snowballs at a time using a regular snowball maker.
The typical proportions of these snow and wood huts are 90cm (Height) x 90cm (Width) x 45cm (Depth).
A player can take cover from incoming snowballs by ducking into one of the structures. In each region, there are two of them. In the middle of the court, there is a sizable covered area.
Chateaus (Originally a French word which refers to a big building reinforced against attack) (Originally a French word which refers to large building strengthened against attack.)
It is also possible to place one Chateau in each region. It’s where the snowballs go at the start of the game and where the team bases themselves.
Rules of Yukigassen
- Winning and Losing
First, you should try to avoid getting hit by any snowballs fired by the other team.
Second, throw as many snowballs as you can at the adversaries.
Thirdly, Get hold of the enemy flag.
There are three sets in each match, and the team which wins two sets first wins the match.
Organize Your Team
A total of ten people make up each team. There are a total of eight people here: seven players, two reserves, and a coach.
The Stadium (Court)
The field measures 10 (length) by 36 (width) meters. The court can be visually divided in half along the centerline. Each team has a backline. Shelters are important defensive structures in a game.
With the centerline serving as the dividing line, the court may be visually broken down into two halves, one for each team. Up to three of a team’s players may cross over to the other team’s side of the court at any given moment.
Players in the forward positions (the attacking players) should be careful not to stray too far behind their own defense.
Yukigassen is an International sport
In February 2013, members of the global Yukigassen community banded together to form the “International Alliance of sports Yukigassen (IAY / Yukigassen International.” The International Association of Yukigassen (IAY) has aspirations to raise the level of competition and expand the popularity of yukigassen as a sport around the world.
Since its inception at the base of Mt. Showa Shinzan (Sobetsu-town, Japan), Yukigassen has grown into a globally competitive sport with tournaments and events held all over the world.
Yukigassen Over the Years
Yukigassen was created in 1987 on the Japanese island of Hokkaido when locals got tired of witnessing tourists from Southeast Asia have so much fun playing a game in which they threw snowballs at each other.
|1988||In the same year that the Yukigassen Rules Committee was established, on December 6th, the final rules were finalized|
|1989||The game was upgraded with the inclusion of helmets and snowball makers|
|1990||On February 25-26, 1990, the very first Showa Shinzan International Yukigassen took place. There were more than seventy teams in that competition|
|1991||The inaugural competition in the Women’s Division|
|1992||Australia hosted the first international Yukigassen gathering|
|1993||Created: Japan’s Yukigassen Alliance|
|1995||Finland is the site of the first-ever yukigassen organization established outside of Japan|
|2008||The Hokkaido Yukigassen Federation is recognized as a legitimate competitive sports association by the Hokkaido Sports Association|
|2010||Yukigassen debuted at the 65th Winter National Sports Festival as a sanctioned competition|
|2013||Yukigassen International, an International Sports Alliance, was founded|
Yukigassen World Championship
In Showa-Shinzan, every year, there is a Yukigassen World Championship. The date of February 20th has become traditional for this event.
Japan Sport Council, Sapporo Beer, and Japan Airlines are among the championship’s sponsors.
Originally just 70 teams competed in the annual Yukigassen World Champion snowball fights, but today that number has grown to an astounding 150.
Notable Tournaments of Yukigassen
- Sorbets, Hokkaido, Japan, hosted the 2015 World Championship.
- Finland’s Kemijarvi will play host to the European Championships.
- Championships in Sweden take place at Lulea, Norrbotten County.
- Vardo, Finnmark wins the Nordic championship.
- Murmansk is the site of the Russian championship.
- Yerevan, Armenia, hosts the Yukigassen Champions League Final.
Snowball fighting has been a professional sport for decades, complete with annual championships, major-brand sponsors, devoted teams, and supporters all over the world, but few outside the community know about it.
Although Yukigassen is a competitive activity, it is also a humorous and enjoyable pastime. Depending on where you reside, you can watch Yukigassen videos on YouTube or attend a live event.
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