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Tiny snowmen for sale

TOKYO -- Postal workers on Japan's snowbound northernmost island of Hokkaido have begun selling snowmen to areas less blessed with the white stuff, a post office worker said today.

The Hayakita Post Office near the city of Chitose about 469 miles north of Tokyo started taking phone orders on its ready-made snowmen, to be packed in styrofoam and airmailed to currently snow-free Tokyo.

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One 14-inch snowman sells for $18, and the price includes charcoal to form the snowman's eyes, nose and mouth.

Postal worker Toshihiko Taniguchi said a snowman can last three hours in 77-degree heat.

'We've had 160 orders since we started taking orders today,' he said. 'We expect to sell at least 1,000 by mid-March,' when the post office stops taking orders for the season.

The post office also intends to take orders for snowmen at Sapporo's famous annual Snow Festival, to be held in early February, Taniguchi said.

That should add sales of another 2,000 snowmen, he said.

Hayakita's postmaster Seiki Shimbo, a Tokyo native, came up with the idea after he transferred to Hokkaido last year, Taniguchi said.

'Tokyo has so little snow that kids there almost never get to make a snowman,' Taniguchi said. 'He figured that children in Tokyo would love to have a snowman of their own.'

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Hokkaido is blanketed with several feet of snow for at least five months each year.

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