One of the principal highlights of a vacation to the island of Hokkaido is the opportunity to visit its capital city, which is the magnificent Sapporo. This part of the island is known for being one of the most interesting cities in this part of Japan and you can come here and enjoy both the modernized and more conventional side of Japanese life. The city is known for its winter theme attractions such as a winter festival as well as some striking ski resorts on the outskirts of Sapporo.
Here are some crazy facts about the city which will definitely make you want to pack your bags and travel here!
1. Chocolate Wonderland
If you want to do something sweet on your trip to Sapporo then you may fancy visiting the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. You can select a tour of the facility and discover out how they make the chocolate here, and their signature treat is the white chocolate prized as ‘shiroi koibito’ which is a specialty of Hokkaido. You can also feast in the onsite restaurant and enjoy a cake buffet as well as check out a robot show and a toy museum. If you are visiting with younger visitors then this is unquestionably one of the top attractions in the city that is not to be fumbled upon.
Source: tokyocreative.com, Gif: Giphy
2. Ice Sculpture Competitions
Sapporo Snow Festival is the principal social event in the city and is recognized for its amazing ice sculpture competition. The festival takes place each year at Odori Koen and begins at the beginning of February. Visiting ice sculptors come from all over the world and you can also discover attractions for children such as ice castles and igloos. If probable, come at night when the ice sculptures are irradiated with distinctive colored lights, but keep in mind that it can also get rather congested.
Source: japan-guide.com, Image: Flickr
3. Asahiyama Park
Asahiyama Park is one of the prettiest of its kind in the city and is enveloped in a gorgeous flower garden which is a riot of color during the whole year. The park is big with amorous young couples, and the best time to come here is in the springtime when you can relish the gorgeous cherry blossoms. If you are here in the autumn, then you can also take in the burnt orange fall colors and this delivers a nice spot to get away from it all and find a niche of calm in Sapporo.
4. The Baseball Teams
Sapporo Dome was the host of the FIFA World Cup in 2002 and now it serves as the home ground of a variety of baseball teams such as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. You may not instantly think of baseball when you think of Japan, but you will even find popular snacks like hot dogs here and you can catch a number of games throughout the season. If you are a baseball enthusiast or just fancy seeing something a little unconventional in Hokkaido then this is an outstanding selection.
Source: dailymail.co.uk, Image: Flickr
5. Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art
Art lovers should make sure not to refrain from the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art which sits in the midst of a pretty park with scattered lawns. The museum is devoted to showcasing modern works of art which were made essentially by Japanese artists but you will also find some Western works on display as well. They also have pivoting galleries of visiting artists so make sure you swing by and check out what’s on when you are in town.
Source: japan-guide.com, Image: Flickr
6. Chocolate Souvenir
Sapporo is well known on the domestic tourist scene and many locals prefer to buy chocolate as a keepsake of their trip. The trademark treat in Sapporo is known as shiroi koibito which means ‘White Lovers’ and, as the name insinuates, this is a kind of white chocolate that is smeared inside a wafer. You can buy the chocolate all over Sapporo for the sweet taste of the city as you leave.
Source: tokyocreatives.com, Gif: Giphy
7. The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower is recognized for being one of the most iconic buildings in Sapporo and it dates to the 1880s when it was constructed in honor of what is now Hokkaido University. There is also an explanation here of how the Clock Tower came into being. This is a very popular spot in Sapporo so make certain you leave some time here to take photographs as it can get rather congested.
8. Beautiful Colors All-Around
Odori Park is the most prominent green space in Sapporo and this is also one of the best-loved spots in the city. The park unwinds over some 15 blocks and you will find that it makes an extraordinary place to come and enjoy an afternoon stroll. Odori Park is enveloped in trees, flowers, and fountains and if you come here in the autumn you can also appreciate the gorgeous copper fall colors.
Source: tokyounscripted.com, Image: Flickr
9. A Doppelganger of Eiffel Tower
Sapporo TV Tower is one of the most recognizable buildings not just in Sapporo but also in the whole of Japan. The tower is a somewhat remarkable attraction in Sapporo as it is fashioned on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. You can travel up to the observation deck here which is positioned at a height of some 90 meters and take in the gorgeous views over Sapporo, so this makes a suitable choice if you are new in town and looking to get an overview of the cityscape.
Source: dailymail.co.uk, Gif: Giphy
10. Sapporo Beer Museum
One of the main attractions in Sapporo is the Sapporo Beer Museum which showcases one of the city’s most popular drinks. The museum is owned by the wider Sapporo Brewing Company and you can take a supervised tour of the facility and learn how the beer is made and how it got its start. There are exhibits to fill you in on the history of the beer and you can also end by inspecting a range of different blends.
Source: tokyounscripted.com, Gif: Giphy
11. Village for the History of Industrialization
Dwelled just outside the center of Sapporo is the Hokkaido Pioneer Village which is the place to arrive if you want to know the history of industrialization in this part of Japan. There is an old model of a railway station here and many of the structures on show date from the inception of the 20th century. There are also dense gardens here which make a great place to saunter in the late afternoon and you will also find a number of dainty shrines on show.
12. Mountain Magic
Moiwayama is also known as Moiwa Mountain in English and this is one of the most magnanimous mountains in the area. It sits just outside of Sapporo and you can come here and take a cable car to the summit so that you can enjoy the magnificent views back over the city. Many people also choose to come here at night as the lights shimmering across Sapporo are truly enchanting.
Source: novalandtours.com, Image: Flickr
13. Fish Market
Nijo Ichiba is often billed as the fish market equivalent to the famous Tsukiji in Tokyo. This is the place to come to check out an enormous range of fish and seafood which is delivered to the market fresh every day. To make sure you get the most excellent of the day’s catch you need to come here as quick as possible and you can also find some delicious sushi restaurants dotted close to the market which sells marvelous fresh sushi and sashimi sourced straight from the market which is also much more inexpensive than many other spots in the city.
14. Scenic Rock Gardens
The Hokkaido University Botanical Garden is one of the most delightful gardens of its kind in the city and you will find a range of unusual attractions here. There are manifold scenic rock gardens as well as a lilac garden and you can also check out a greenhouse. There are other smaller gardens dotted around which are designed according to various themes and there is also a museum that will fill you in on some of the histories of Hokkaido. If conceivable, try and get here in the springtime when everything is in full bloom.
15. Hokkaido Museum
If you want to know more about the history of Sapporo and wider Hokkaido, then head to the Hokkaido Museum. Here you can tour a number of galleries that will take you back in time and you can even check out fluffy mammoths that have been shielded. The museum also tells the tale of the industrial period in Hokkaido along with some antiquated steam engines and you can also check out the more contemporary side of the city with an explanation of its concurrent history. Many museums in the area struggle with English signage but Hokkaido Museum has a range of entertaining and engaging English explanations so that you will be able to get the full story of the history of this region.
Source: cyberspaceandtime.com, Image: Flickr
16. Kick Back and Relax
Anyone looking for a green space in the city should head to Moerenuma Park which unrolls over a number of acres and is a top spot if you want to relax and unwind. The park is known for its lush lawns and is impressive attractions which are also rather surprising at times. One of these is a large glass pyramid which mounts over five stories and there is also a mountain here which you can climb and look out over Sapporo. The park also provides free bicycles for visitors which is one of the best ways to take in the sights here.
17. For Some Hairy Crabs
The signature foodstuff in Sapporo is the hairy crab which is also known as kegani. The crab is fresh and delightful, although you need to note that it is not cheap! There are a number of outstanding crab restaurants all over town and you will be able to tell when you have spotted one as they usually have a large prototype of a plastic crab hanging over the door. Ramen is also famous here and comes with a miso paste stock for a salty kick. You can also try the famous Sapporo soup curry which is essentially a soup that comes with a curry sauce and this is one city that is recognized for its foodie scene in Hokkaido so whatever you decide you will not go hungry on a visit here.
18. Winter Sports
Sapporo is known for its winter sports and if you desire to go skiing then you require to head to Mount Teine which is the most prominent ski mountain in the region. This was also the spot where the Winter Olympics took place in 1972 and this is an outstanding place for all kinds of skiers as there are some beginner, intermediate and advanced runs. You can also try other snowy ventures here such as snowboarding and tobogganing
Source: japan-guide.com, Gif: Giphy
19. Secret Behind Chocolates and Icecreams!
Hokkaido has a great dairy industry and this means that you will find plenty of ice cream in the city. Adults seeking a more exciting kind of soft serve, however, are also in luck, as Sapporo has a variety of ice cream parlors of a diverse style. One of the best places to sample Sapporo’s signature ice cream is at Milk Mura where you will be served a mug of gratifying ice cream which is presented to you along with a chaser of liquor. You also get an ice cream refill here for free and can choose up to three distinct shots of liquor to go with this milky treat.
20. Scenic Satellite Town
If you want to get out of the center of Sapporo then contemplate a trip to Jozankei for the day which is about an hour away. Here you will find a scenic satellite town that is known for its onsen and hot springs so this makes the perfect spot if you want to skip the city and relax and unwind, and you can also check out the greens here. These become a riot of color in the fall and there are a few other spots of interest such as Houhaikyou Dam which also awards you some pretty vistas across the wider countryside. If you are looking for a day trip when you are sojourning in Sapporo then this is hard to beat.
21. Victorian Inspired
Kaitaku-mura is the title for a neighborhood that is known for its gorgeous historical buildings and models that take you back to the Sapporo of old. It is located in Nopporo Shinrin-koen and you can check out some astounding architecture from the 19th century here. Some of the homes were built in the Victorian style while others are luxuriant merchants’ homes that would have been erected as a result of the riches of the herring industry. One of the best things about touring this area is that many of the buildings are open to the public so you check out the interiors as well.
Source: cityunscripted.com, Image: Flickr
22. Farmer’s Market
Hokkaido is known for its dairy industry and also its luscious fruits and vegetables. Sapporo is no failure in this area and you can check out the local markets where you will find amazing produce such as strawberries and juicy melons. Also, make sure to look out for kuwanomi which are the local mulberries that come from Souen and are normally remarkably sweet. They are often made into a delicious sticky jam which makes a great memento of a trip to Sapporo.
Source: japan.travel, Image: Flickr
23. A Symbolic Structure
If you want to learn more about the Ainu who are the indigenous ethnic group from Hokkaido, then you need to head to the Hokkaido Ainu Center. This is a small facility that belongs to the Hokkaido Ainu Association but they have a range of interesting galleries here that tell the story of their history. You will also find artifacts on display such as textiles and jewelry
24. Skiing Down the Incline
The Ski Jump Stadium is another famous spot in Sapporo and is known for its slope which was built onto the side of Okura-yama or Okura Mountain during the Winter Olympics in 1972. You can climb to the top of the jump which is located at a height of over 133 meters and you can also try a simulator in the museum here which will show you what it would be like to actually ski down this amazing incline.
25. 100th Anniversary Memorial Park
The 100th Anniversary Memorial Park is located close to the Hokkaido Pioneer Village so it makes sense to visit both of these at the same time. The main reason why people visit the park is to try out the large tower that stands here and you can climb to the top and then look out over the rest of Sapporo. This is also a good place to come if you want to check out some of the natural scenery here as the park is encircled by some of the prettiest mountains in the region.