Sapporo City is one of Japan's younger, most pleasant and convenient cities.
As the major administrative and commercial hub of Hokkaido, the city has grown to a population of
1.8 million (Japan's 5th largest). It is big enough to have everything you need without the hassles of crowding.
Sapporo dominates Hokkaido's cultural life, there are interesting
museums including the Ainu Museum, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art and the outdoor
Historical Village of Hokkaido. Apart from the attractions of the city itself,
Sapporo is a good transit hub for exploring this part of Hokkaido by train or rental car.
Summer is the peak tourist season when Japanese tourists escape the hot humidity of
the other large cities to the south. The city offers much to see and do, from taking
in the history, Sapporo beer, and museums, as well as
the nightlife of Susukino. It is modern and clean, has no rainy season.
During the summer festival (from around the 20th of July
for one month) the Odori Park in the city center has beer gardens, bon dancing in
mid-August, and also hosts the Pacific Music Festival (started by Leonard Bernstein).
Summer ends quickly and from September onwards the temperatures drop rapidly and rain is common,
but as the leaves change color it is also a nice time to visit. Sapporo is famous for barbecued mutton ("Genghis Khan"), steaming
hot ramen noodles and of course, good beer.
The second (smaller) tourist season is in the winter, when
Odori Park is transformed each February into a massive open
air snow sculpture gallery as the city hosts its annual "Sapporo Snow Festival" -
an event held since 1950. Sapporo and
Hokkaido also offer excellent skiing and snowboarding
opportunities, with ski fields closeby including Sapporo Teine, and
It was the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, Asian Winter Games and Winter Universiade.
Okurayama Ski Jump and other local facilities
including the excellent cross country ski trails will play a major role in 2007 when Sapporo City hosts the
FIS Nordic World Ski Championship. This elite competition has never been held in Asia before and the city
is rapt in expectation.
Modern development of
Hokkaido did not begin until the Meiji era government embarked on colonization of the island, and
the early history of Sapporo resembles that of a frontier town. There was considerable western
influence at the time - Sapporo's streets are laid out an orderly grid that is rare in Japan, making it one of the easiest
cities to navigate. The Meiji government employed western advisors such as
William S. Clark, who are still
celebrated today. Many of Sapporo's landmark buildings such as the
Hoheikan, Clock Tower,
the campus of Hokkaido University and the
old government building date from this time.
Winter in Sapporo is cold. The snow usually starts falling in November. If travelling to Sapporo in the winter months
bring very warm (preferably wind & water resistant/proof) clothing. If travelling to the snow festival, you should
definitely book accommodation well in advance. Spring emerges in April as the snow melts and the
wildflowers and greenery bursts. Summer is very comfortable - without the heat & humidity of the south,
and crowds of tourists means that you should again book accommodation early, especially backpacker and
other budget accommodation.
Things to see and do:
City Highlights -
Botanical Gardens/Ainu Museum,
Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art,
Ishiya Chocolate Factory,
Okurayama Jump Hill,
"Old Red Bricks",
Sapporo Snow Festival,
Susukino nightlife and entertainment district,
Region Highlights -
Historical Village of Hokkaido,
Jozankei Onsen (hot springs),
Sapporo Art Park,
Sapporo Dome Stadium,
Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort,
Sapporo Teine Ski Resort
How to get there:
Air - Shin Chitose Airport has direct flights with Kansai, Nagoya and Tokyo airports as well as most major cities in Japan.
It is also possible to
fly in directly from some overseas locations. If you are flying from Europe or North America, it may be cheaper to use
Hong Kong or Seoul as a hub. There are buses (70 minutes) and trains (36 minutes) connecting the airport with Sapporo
Train - It is easy but expensive to go to Sapporo by train via the Seikan Tunnel. At this stage there is no shinkansen
(the current Tohoku line terminates at Morioka in Iwate prefecture).
There is an overnight service from Ueno (Tokyo) to Sapporo via
15 hours 32 minutes at 28,250 yen. Travelling from northern areas of Honshu is a little cheaper.
If you have time, ferry is usually the better option.
Ferry - There are ferries from Niigata, Tsuruga and Maizuru to Otaru (30 minutes to Sapporo by train), and
from most of the cities (Nagoya, Tokyo, Sendai etc) to Tomakomai and Muroran. The fare depends on which company you use,
but is cheaper than the train and a relaxing way to travel.
Bus - If comfort and sleep are not a priority, Sapporo has good long-distance highway bus links with cities to the
south (Nagoya, Tokyo etc).
Study in Sapporo - It is now possible to study Japanese in Sapporo
either during the Sapporo Summer Japanese Course or the
Sapporo Winter Japanese Course, as well as Study Tours.
Click here for more information regarding studying Japanese in Sapporo.
Tours - The Japan Discovery Tours visit Sapporo
during the annual Sapporo Snow Festival.
Click here for more information regarding when Discovery visits this destination.
Photographs and contributions
Do you have good photographs or a story to share about Sapporo? Please share it with us.
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Disclaimer and Request:
Opening hours, prices, booking procedures, schedules etc are subject to changes beyond our control. This site is just a guide,
and we advise that you always check and confirm in advance. Suggestions, additions and correction of errors are always
welcome. Please contact us.
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