Japan's northern island of Hokkaido is still in the grip of biting winter weather, but that's good news for some animals at a zoo in Sapporo.
The polar bears, Amur tigers, and snow leopards have been enjoying their time outdoors at the Maruyama Zoo, while giraffes and other animals from warm habitats are being kept indoors.
Visitors are flocking to the city of Sapporo on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido to see snow and ice sculptures as the annual snow festival kicks off.
The festival, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, is being held in three locations across the city. At its main Odori Park site, the event opened with a trumpet fanfare.
More than 40 people were injured on Sunday when an explosion caused a fire at a commercial building housing a pub in Sapporo City on Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido. Police suspect a gas leak may be the cause.
Police say the explosion occurred at around 8:30 PM in Toyohira Ward, about 3 kilometers southeast of the Sapporo City center.
Foreign residents in Sapporo in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido have taken part in a drill to learn how they should act in the event of an earthquake or a fire.
Hokkaido was hit by a powerful earthquake last month. The disaster highlighted the need for special assistance for foreign residents who are not familiar with earthquakes.
Night-time lighting has returned to the city of Sapporo in Hokkaido, about 2 weeks after a powerful earthquake hit the northern Japanese prefecture.
The September 6th quake caused an emergency shutdown of the Tomatoh-Atsuma thermal plant, the largest in Hokkaido, and that triggered a blackout affecting about 2.95 million households across the prefecture. Even after power was restored, many shops and restaurants kept neon signs and lights off at night to conserve electricity.
City officials of Sapporo in quake-hit Hokkaido say it will take at least 3 months before recovery work can start in an area badly damaged by land liquefaction.
More than 10 buildings tilted and roads sank in the Satozuka district in the city's Kiyota Ward after the September 6th earthquake triggered widespread liquefaction.
The city of Sapporo in quake-hit Hokkaido Prefecture is reducing subway and streetcar services to save electricity.
Sapporo began the cuts on Monday as residents and businesses in the prefecture are being asked to meet a power-saving target of 20 percent. Hokkaido's largest thermal power plant is being repaired after it was damaged by Thursday's powerful earthquake.