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.
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2. Ice Sculpture Competitions
The snow festival which has a long ancient history and significance happens every year in February in Sapporo. The festival is most famous for its ice sculpting competition. It is commemorated every year at Odori Koen. The competitors from all over the world join the competition. You can also see some attractions for children like ice castles and igloos. It is a beautiful view at night because all the sculptures are lit brightly with fairy lights. The look that you get is quite amazing!
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.
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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.
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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-like fall colors.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
In case you are every more inquisitive to know more about the history of Sapporo, then Hokkaido Museum is the place for you. There are numerous galleries with many mammoths that remain protected. Te galleries will definitely take you back in time. The museum has some steam engines stored that will help you know more about the Industrial Age of this place. The museum provides a description of each object that will help you know more about it. It is true that such cities and towns struggle with English boards for directions and other signs, but the museum has a wide variety of witty and engaging English descriptions that will help you gather and retain the complete history of the place.
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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 has its very own skiing mountain. The place is famous for its winter sports and if you love to ski or winter sports in general, then you need to hike towards Mount Teine which is the largest snow mountain in Sapporo. You will be amazed to know that the winter Olympics of 1972 took place here. However, you need not worry! This is not restricted to the advanced level players, beginners can enjoy equally well. Besides skiing, there are other sport games like 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
Wanna visit the ancient city of Sapporo? Kaitaku-Mura is the perfect place for you! This place is quite famous for its ancient buildings and structures that date back to the nineteenth century. The little hamlet is located in Nopporo Shinrin-koen. While some of the homes here are built in the early Victorian fashion, there are others that are designed by the local merchants as a result of the excess money due to herring business. Many buildings here are open for tourist visits and so you can even check the interiors of the place out.
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22. Farmer’s Market
Hokkaido is not only known for its dairy industry but 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
One more popular spot among the tourists is the Ski Jump Stadium. The stadium is well known for its slope that was made of the side of Okura-yama or Okura Mountain while the winter Olympics was in full swing during the 1970s. It is possible to reach the summit whose height is 133 meters. But what is more interesting is that you can even experience what will it be like to ski down the hill by using a simulator in the museum.
25. 100th Anniversary Memorial Park
The park is named as The 100th Anniversary Memorial Park for real! It is located near the Pioneer Village. There exists a huge tower which you can climb, by the way, in case you need to have a beautiful view of the whole Sapporo city. The place is also known for its scenic beauty as it is encompassed by some truly picturesque mountain ranges in that part.