Learn More About Sports Yukigassen®

The Beginning and Rules of "Sports Yukigassen"

Birth of Sports Yukigassen®

The beginning of Sports Yukigassen® started from the revitalization of Sobetsu-cho, Usu-gun, Hokkaido.  Facing the southeastern shore of Lake Toya, it is a town with two volcanoes, Mt. Usu and Mt. Showa Shinzan.  In the summer, many tourists come to enjoy the natural scenery of Lake Toya and Showa Shinzan. However, when it snows in winter, the number of tourists decreases and the town becomes very quiet.

In 1987, the young people of Sobetsu-cho considered various ideas to liven up their quiet town. "Let's create a town that can revitalize the area even in winter!" This is when "Sports Yukigassen®" was conceived. The rules were decided and established in 1988. In 1989, the first Sports Yukigassen® tournament, the "1st Showa Shinzan International Yukigassen," was held in Sobetsu-cho.


After that, Sports Yukigassen® began spreading around Japan, and even around the rest of the world! With tournaments and events being held worldwide, Sports Yukigassen® has become a global sport.

Basic Rules

1. Basic points of victory and defeat

  • ① Do not make contact with snowballs thrown by the enemy team. 
  • ② Hit the opponents with snowballs as much as possible.
  • ③ Capture the opponent's flag.
  • ④ Each match has three 3-minute sets, and the first team to win two sets wins the match.

2. Team formation

Each team consists of 10 people. This includes 7 athletes, 2 substitutes, and 1 field coach.

3. Stadium (court)

Size of the court is 10 (L) x 36 (W) m.  The centerline divides the court into two halves, one for each team. There is a backline on each side. Defense facilities, called shelters, are key to a game. 



Players can hide behind the shelters that protect from opponent snowballs.  There are two in each territory.  A large center shelter is placed in the center of the court.

・Chateaus (Originally a French word which refers to a large building strengthened against attack.)

One Chateau is also installed in each territory. It is the base of the team and the place to put the snowballs at the beginning of the game.


A flag is set in front of the backline. The loss of a flag to the opposing team results in defeat.


With the centerline as the boundary, the court is divided into two sides, one for each team. Players can enter the opponent’s side of the court, but no more than 3 players are allowed at a time..


Forwards (attackers) should not fall behind their own backline.


  • ① A player who touches an in-play snowball will be "out" and must leave the court. The player cannot return to the game until the end of the set.
  • ② When a player gets hit by not only the snowball thrown by the opponent, but also the snowball thrown by the ally or the snowball once away from your hand will be out.
  • ③ Each team has 90 snowballs in one set. Additional snowballs cannot be made during a match.
  • ④ Forward players must not go behind their backline.
  • ⑤ Up to 3 players can enter the opposition’s side of the court at a time. If 4 or more people enter, the team loses immediately.

Click here for more detailed rules.

Process of a Match

① Start

The match starts with each team lining up on the back line.   Forwards run to get good positions. 


② The game develops with fierce offense and defense, and strategic planning 

Engage in combat by hiding behind the shelter and attacking.  The shelters are the key to both offense and defense.

Engage in combat by hiding behind the shelter and attacking

Forwards cannot replenish snowballs by themselves. 
Players in a role called backs replenish the forwards with snowballs.  
Each team uses 90 balls per set.
The strategic timing of snowball distribution is also key to how you win the game.


③ End of a set

 A set is won when a team eliminates all of the opponents or when they capture the opponent's flag. If it is not settled in 3 minutes, the team that hits more opponents wins the set.


④ Victory

The first team to win 2 out of 3 sets, or the team who has won the most sets, wins. When both teams win an even amount of sets, add up all the points and decide the winner. When both the amount of sets and the amount of points are even, a Victory Throw (VT) will be played. In a VT, the team that knocks more targets placed on the chateau wins.


On the next page, we will be introducing the sporting equipment used for Sports Yukigassen®.

Sporting Equipment of Sports Yukigassen®