Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and Japan’s fifth largest city. Sapporo is also one of the nation’s youngest major cities. In 1857, the city’s population stood at just seven people.
Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there. Today, the city is well known for its ramen, beer, and the annual snow festival held in February.
Places to visit in Sapporo
1 Sapporo Snow Festival
The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place every year for a week in February across three main sites: Odori Park, Tsudome and Susukino. As the name implies, this festival is all about snow and ice sculptures.
The festival’s main site is Odori Park. Here, you’ll find most of the snow and ice sculptures, as well as plenty of warm drinks and food choices. The ice sculptures can be over 15 meters tall and 25 meters wide.
The snow festival is staged on three sites: the Odori Site, Susukino Site and Tsu Dome Site.
2 Moerenuma Park
Moerenuma Park is a comprehensive park in Sapporo that is intended to be the base of the “Circular Greenbelt Concept” that combines the green spaces of the city of Sapporo within a loop. Construction commenced in 1982, and the park had its grand opening in 2005. Sculptor Isamu Noguchi created the basic design based on the concept of “the whole being a single sculpture.” The fountain and hills form many geometric shapes in the expansive grounds, facilities for play equipment and so forth are arranged in an orderly manner, and the landscape can be enjoyed as a fusion of nature and art. Cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, and the fountain and wading pool facilities are open to make for a refreshing Sapporo summer. Fall brings foliage, and you may enjoy cross-country skiing and sledding across the snow-covered landscape during winter. The park has attractions for all seasons.
3 Mount Moiwa
Moiwayama is located in the middle of Sapporo City at an altitude of 531m. From the top of the mountain, you can see a panoramic view of the cityscape of Sapporo, Ishikari Bay of Japan Sea, and Mt. Take the ropeway or the Mt. Moiwa sightseeing expressway from the base to the middle, and ride from the middle to the summit on the mini-cable “Morris Car” that uses the world’s first drive system. It is popular as a mountain that can be easily climbed by Sapporo citizens, and there are five mountain trails (shortest course 2.4km, longest course 4.5km) that can be climbed lightly. Click here for the climbing route of Mt. Moiwa (Sapporo City website). In Ainu language, it was said to be “Incarsipe” (where you always go up and watch). Takeshiro Matsuura, an explorer at the end of the Tokugawa Era, wrote in his “Akiyote Diary” that “Mt. Moiwa was not only a sight-seeing mountain for Ainu but also a precious mountain of God.” It’s a place you can’t miss if you look at the night view of Sapporo as well as daytime..
4 Sapporo Beer Museum
The Sapporo Beer Museum just reopened to the public in April 2016 after undergoing a complete renovation. The museum also offers a premium tour where you can sample “Fukkoku Sapporo Bakushu”, a unique beer brewed according to the methods used back in 1881.
Hokkaido is the birthplace of beer in Japan. Sapporo Beer, one of the oldest and most popular beer brands in the country, has been brewed in Sapporo since 1877. This is Japan’s only museum dedicated to beer, which explores the long history of Sapporo Beer, passed down from the days of the 1876 Kaitakushi business.
5 Odori Park
Odori Park is an oasis with 92 types of trees including lilacs and elm stands located in the middle of a business district. On its lawns and around its fountains, one can find locals and tourists alike relaxing. Odori Park is called a park, but it’s really a street. In 1871, a firebreak, which cuts central Sapporo into is northern and southern parts, was built. The firebreak became Shiribeshi Dori, which was renamed Odori. Odori Park, which is usually a very calm and relaxed space, is also used for many of Hokkaido’s best-known seasonal events, such as the Snow Festival in the winter, Lilac Festival in the spring, YOSAKOI Soran Festival and beer garden in the summer, and Autumn Festival, which brings together various Hokkaido cuisines, in the fall.
At the eastern end of Odori Park stands the Sapporo TV Tower, which has an observation deck with nice views of the park and the surrounding city. The tower is just under 150 meters tall, and the observation deck is at an elevation of 90 meters. During the evening the tower is illuminated, making it an attractive landmark.