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Travel

Japan's snow festival opens

More than 2 million visitors are expected at this year's Sapporo snow festival, which kicked off on Monday, showcasing hundreds of ice sculptures of iconic movie characters, celebrities and even U.S. President Trump.

A military band entertained crowds at the opening ceremony, which saw the French flag raised on an ice replica of the famous Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris. 

Other highlights included an ice moulding of singer Pikotaro, who rose to fame when his song "Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen" went viral on YouTube last year. That song also inspired an ice sculpture of President Trump holding an apple and a pen, a reference to the main dance move in the music video.

In addition, there were sculptures from Nintendo's Pokemon Go game and Star Wars characters, including the villain Darth Vader and robots R2D2 and C-3PO. Teams from around the world will compete in a snow sculpture contest that forms part of the festival, with the winner being chosen on Thursday. The Sapporo Snow Festival, marking its 68th edition this year, ends on Sunday.

isi/ks (dpa, reuters)