While we were in Hokkaido we spent one evening in a town about a half an hour away from Sapporo called Otaru. Every year they put floating lamps into the canal and the community contributes snow and ice lanterns and sculptures that dot the town. I feel kind bad saying this but I think I liked Otaru better that Sapporo. it felt less commercial and more special.
There were snow carvings and lanterns randomly arranged on every street and some streets were just covered in flickering candles and cute little snow sculptures. We wandered around with the locals and tourists and enjoyed the snow. We also ate some delicious Yakiniku and left happy and with full bellies back to Sapporo.