Snowball fighting

In its simplest form, a snowball fight involves throwing snowballs at another person, or team, with the intention of hitting them. For many of us, as kids this was a winter highlight.

Japan and India have taken things a step further however by formalizing a set of rules to turning snowball fighting into a competitive sport:

  • In Japan this sport is called Yukigassen
  • The equivalent in India is known as SheenAab Jung

Yukigassen: Japanese Snowball Fighting

Yukigassen is a Japanese game in which two teams of seven players compete against each other (i.e. pelt each other mercilessly with snowballs).

The game is played on a court with specific dimensions, and the winner is decided by the Japan Yukigassen Federation’s rules. Players are eliminated when they are struck by a snowball, similar to capture the flag.

Players wear Yukigassen helmets with face shields and a predetermined amount of snowballs (90) are manufactured ahead of time.

Currently there are annual Yukigassen tournaments in 10 or more countries:

  • Sōbetsu, Hokkaidō in Japan
  • Kemijärvi in Finland
  • Vardø in Norway
  • Murmansk in Russia
  • Mount Buller, Victoria in Australia
  • Luleå in Sweden
  • Anchorage in Alaska
  • Aparan in Armenia
  • Jasper, Alberta and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada
The name Yukigassen (雪合戦) is made up of the Japanese words yuki (snow) and kassen (battle). As a result, yukigassen means "snow battle" in Japanese, but it is also a common phrase for "snowball fight.
Yukigassen finals

Snowball Trivia

Dutch prohibition

snowball battles were purportedly outlawed by the city council of Amsterdam in 1472 for grounds of public safety, a prohibition that regularly appears on lists of weird laws. If the law ever existed, it is currently unenforced.

Military precision

the greatest military snoball fight took place in the Rappahannock Valley in Northern Virginia on January 29, 1863, during the American Civil War. What began as a friendly altercation between a few hundred Texas soldiers and their Arkansas campmates quickly turned into a riot involving 9,000 Army of Northern Virginia soldiers.

Vintage cinema

Bataille de neige (snowfight) is an 1897 French short silent film produced by the Lumiére brothers, who were among the world’s first filmmakers. The footage, which was shot in Lyon in 1897, was recently colorized and smoothed using AI – take a look!