What to do after a snowstorm? Japanese city goes for snowman-building world record

TOKYO (AFP) - A small Japanese city has claimed a new snowman-building world record, an official said on Monday, after a winter storm dumped tonnes of the white stuff.

More than 600 people raced to complete a whopping 1,585 snowmen - each at least 90cm tall - in an hour, smashing the previous Guinness World Record. "We've been preparing the event since last year," said an official in Iiyama city, where 23cm of snow fell in 24 hours.

Young and old joined in the fun, using only their gloved hands, to better the previous record, achieved in the United States in 2011, by 306. "It was tough because the snow crumbled, but I had fun," eight-year-old Ichika Oguchi said, according to Kyodo News. "I am very happy that we were able to set a record."

As well as the minimum height requirement, Guinness stipulates that each snowman has to have facial features and ornamental arms.

Much of northern Japan has endured heavy snowfall this winter, with one place in Hokkaido getting 180cm in one day earlier this month.

Last month, four people died in avalanches that struck some of the country's many ski resorts, while in December, a bitter winter storm claimed at least 11 lives nationwide.