Sapporo is the fourth largest city in Japan by population, and the largest city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Located in Ishikari Subprefecture, it is the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture, and an ordinance-designated city of Japan.

Info Sapporo


Sapporo is the fourth largest city in Japan by population, and the largest city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Located in Ishikari Subprefecture, it is the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture, and an ordinance-designated city of Japan.

Sapporo is known outside Japan for having hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, the first ever held in Asia, and for the city's annualYuki Matsuri, internationally referred to as the Sapporo Snow Festival, which draws more than 2 million tourists from around the world. The city is also home to Sapporo Brewery and the white chocolate biscuits called shiroi koibito (白い恋人?, "white sweetheart").


POPULATION : 1,918,096
TIME ZONE : Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
LANGUAGE : Japanese
RELIGION : observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)
AREA : 1,121.12 km2 (432.87 sq mi)
COORDINATES : 43°4′N 141°21′E
SEX RATIO : Male: 48.60%
 Female: 51.40%
ETHNIC : Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%
WEBSITE : Official Website


Sapporo (札幌) is the capital and largest city of the northern island of Hokkaido,Japan.

One of Japan's newest and nicest cities, Sapporo's population has grown from seven in 1857 to nearly 2 million today. Being a new city, especially by Japanese standards, means it has little in the way of traditional architecture and the like of cities such as Kyoto. But what it lacks in "Japanese-ness" it makes up for with its lovely open, tree-filled boulevards to enjoy in summer and excellent snow (and facilities to cope with said snow) in the long winter.

As of 2006, the annual number of tourists to Sapporo reached 14,104,000, an increase of 5.9% over the previous year (13,323,000 in 2005).  2006 was also the first year for Sapporo when the number of tourists exceeded 14 million.


Early history

Before its establishment, the area occupied by Sapporo (known as the Ishikari Plain) was home to a number of indigenous Ainu settlements.  In 1866, at the end of the Edo period, construction began on a canal through the area, encouraging a number of early settlers to establish Sapporo village.  The settlement's name was taken from the Ainu language sat poro pet (サッ・ポロ・ペッ), and can be translated as "dry, great river".

In 1868, the officially recognized year celebrated as the "birth" of Sapporo, the new Meiji government concluded that the existing administrative center of Hokkaido, which at the time was the port of Hakodate, was in an unsuitable location for defense and further development of the island. As a result, it was determined that a new capital on the Ishikari Plain should be established. The plain itself provided an unusually large expanse of flat, well drained land which is relatively uncommon in the otherwise mountainous geography of Hokkaido.

During 1870–1871, Kuroda Kiyotaka, vice-chairman of the Hokkaido Development Commission (Kaitaku-shi), approached the American government for assistance in developing the land. As a result, Horace Capron, Secretary of Agriculture under President Ulysses S. Grant, became an oyatoi gaikokujin and was appointed as a special advisor to the commission. Construction began around Odori Park, which still remains as a green ribbon of recreational land bisecting the central area of the city. The city closely followed a grid plan with streets at right-angles to form city blocks.

The continuing expansion of the Japanese into Hokkaido continued, mainly due to migration from the main island of Honshu immediately to the south, and the prosperity of Hokkaido and particularly its capital grew to the point that the Development Commission was deemed unnecessary and was abolished in 1882.

Edwin Dun (oyatoi gaikokujin) came to Sapporo to establish sheep and cattle ranches in 1876. He also demonstrated pig raising and the making of butter, cheese, ham and sausage. He married a Japanese woman. He once went back to the US in 1883 but returned to Japan as a secretary of government.

William S. Clark (oyatoi gaikokujin), who was the president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts Amherst), came to be the founding vice-president of the Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University) for only eight months from 1876 to 1877. He taught academic subjects in science and lectured on the Bible as an "ethics" course, introducing Christian principles to the first entering class of the College.

In 1880, the entire area of Sapporo was renamed as "Sapporo-ku" (Sapporo Ward),  and a railroad between Sapporo and Temiya, Otaru was laid. That year the Hōheikan, a hotel and reception facility for visiting officials and dignitaries, was erected adjacent to the Odori Park. It was later moved to Nakajima Park where it remains today. Two years later, with the abolition of the Kaitaku-shi, Hokkaidō was divided into three prefectures: Hakodate, Sapporo, and Nemuro. The name of the urban district in Sapporo remained Sapporo-ku, while the rest of the area in Sapporo-ku was changed to Sapporo-gun. The office building of Sapporo-ku was also located in the urban district.

Sapporo, Hakodate, and Nemuro Prefectures were abolished in 1886, and Hokkaidō government office building, an American-neo-baroque-style structure with red bricks, constructed in 1888. The last squad of the Tondenhei, the soldiers pioneering Hokkaido, settled in the place where the area of Tonden in Kita-ku, Sapporo is currently located. Sapporo-ku administered surrounding Sapporo-gun until 1899, when the new district system was announced. After that year, Sapporo-ku was away from the control of Sapporo-gun. The "ku" (district) enforced from 1899 was an autonomy which was a little bigger than towns, and smaller than cities. In Hokkaido at that time, Hakodate-ku and Otaru-ku also existed.

Modern history (20th century)

In 1907, the Tohoku Imperial University was established in Sendai Miyagi Prefecture, and Sapporo Agricultural College was controlled by the University. Parts of neighbouring villages including Sapporo Village, Naebo Village, Kami Shiroishi Village, and districts where Tonden-hei has settled, were integrated into Sapporo-ku in 1910.

The Sapporo Streetcar was opened in 1918, and Hokkaido Imperial University was established in Sapporo-ku, as the fifth Imperial University in Japan. Another railroad operated in Sapporo, the Jōzankei Railroad, which was ultimately abolished in 1969.

In 1922, the new city system was announced by the Tokyo government, and Sapporo-ku was officially transferred to the Sapporo City.  The Sapporo Municipal Bus System was started in 1930. In 1937, Sapporo was chosen as the site of the 1940 Winter Olympics, but due to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, this was canceled in the next year. Maruyama Town was integrated into a part of the Chūō-ku in 1940, and the Okadama Airport was constructed in 1942.

During the last days of World War II, on July 14 and 15, 1945, 30 B-29 Superfortress bombers dropped 889 tons of E-46 500 lbs incendiary cluster bombs and 500 lbs T4E4 fragmentation cluster bombs into Sapporo at lunchtime in two separate air raids. In the resulting firestorm 190 civilians were killed, 6,788 were injured, 78,000 others remained homeless, and many structures burned for a total of 17.5 percent of the city destroyed as a part of Allied air raids on Hokkaido. The city however, was reconstructed after the war.

The first Sapporo Snow Festival was held in 1950. In the same year, adjacent Shiroishi Village was integrated into Sapporo City, rendered as a part of Shiroishi-ku, and Atsubetsu-ku. In 1955, Kotoni Town, the entire Sapporo Village, and Shinoro Village were merged into Sapporo, becoming a part of the current Chūō-ku, Kita-ku, Higashi-ku, Nishi-ku, and Teine-ku. The expansion of Sapporo continued, with the merger of Toyohira Town in 1961, and Teine Town in 1967, each became as a part of Toyohira-ku, Kiyota-ku, and Teine-ku.

The ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Sapporo and Hokkaido was held in 1968. The Sapporo Municipal Subway system was inaugurated in 1971, which made Sapporo the fourth city in Japan to have a subway system. From February 3 to 13, 1972, the 1972 Winter Olympics were held, the first Winter Olympics held in Asia.  On April 1 of the same year, Sapporo was designated as one of the cities designated by government ordinance, and seven wards were established. The last ever public performance by the opera singer, Maria Callas, was in Sapporo at the Hokkaido Koseinenkin Kaikan on 11 November 1974. The Sapporo Municipal Subway was expanded when the Tōzai line started its operation in 1976, and Tōho line was opened in 1988. In 1989, Atsubetsu-ku and Teine-ku were separated from Shiroishi-ku and Nishi-ku. Annual events in Sapporo were started, such as the Pacific Music Festival in 1990, and Yosakoi Sōran Festival in 1992. A professional football club, Consadole Sapporo, was established in 1996. In 1997, Kiyota-ku was separated from Toyohira-ku. In the same year, Hokkaidō Takushoku Bank, a Hokkaido-based bank with headquarters in Odori, went bankrupt.

21st century

In 2001 the construction of the Sapporo Dome was completed, and in 2002 the Dome hosted three games during the 2002 FIFA World Cup; Germany vs Saudi Arabia, Argentina vs England and Italy vs Ecuador, all of which were in the first round. The present mayor of Sapporo, Fumio Ueda, was elected as the mayor for the first time in 2003. Sapporo became the home to a Nippon Professional Baseball team,Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, in 2004, which won the 2006 Japan Series, and the victory parade was held on Ekimae-Dōri (a street in front of Sapporo Station) in February 2007.

The 34th G8 summit took place in Tōyako in 2008, and a number of people including anti-globalisation activists and marched in the heart of the city to protest. Police officers were gathered in Sapporo from all over Japan, and the news reported that four people were arrested in the demonstrations. The Hokkaidō Shinkansen line, which is currently under construction to Hakodate through the Seikan Tunnel, is planned to link to Sapporo.


Sapporo has four distinct seasons. Temperatures are generally cool and pleasant in a summer, making it a popular place to escape the heat that grips much of the rest of Japan. Winters are harsh by Japanese standards, though not as harsh as the likes of Harbin or Chicago. Snowfall is extremely frequent in the winter, and the city makes full use of it be hosting the world-renowned Sapporo Snow Festival in February every year.

Daily highs (°C)-1041217222526221692
Nightly lows (°C)-7-7-3381317191481-4
Precipitation (mm)114947857534781124135109104112


Sapporo is a city located in the southwest part of Ishikari Plain and the alluvial fan of the Toyohira River, a tributary stream of theIshikari River.  Roadways in the urban district are laid to make grid plan road. The western and southern part of Sapporo are occupied by a number of mountains including Mount Teine, Maruyama, and Mount Moiwa, as well as a lot of rivers including the Ishikari River, Toyohira River, and Sōsei River.

Sapporo has many parks, including Odori Park, which is located in the heart of the city and hosts a number of annual events and festivals throughout the year. Moerenuma Park is also one of the largest parks in Sapporo, and was constructed under the plan of Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American artist and landscape architect.

Neighbouring cities are Ishikari, Ebetsu, Kitahiroshima, Eniwa, Chitose,Otaru, Date, and towns are Tōbetsu, Kimobetsu, Kyōgoku.


The tertiary sector dominates Sapporo's industry. Major industries include information technology, retail, and tourism, as Sapporo is a destination for winter sports and events and summer activities due to its cool climate.

The city is also the manufacturing centre of Hokkaido, manufacturing various goods such as food and related products, fabricated metal products, steel, machinery, beverages, and pulp and paper.

Hokkaido International Airlines (Air Do) is headquartered in Chūō-ku. In April 2004, Air Nippon Network was headquartered in Higashi-ku.

Greater Sapporo, Sapporo Metropolitan Employment Area (2.3 million people), had a total GDP of US$ 84.7 million in 2010.


Sapporo has ten wards:

Chūō-ku  – administrative center

Internet, Comunication

There are a quite few internet cafes in the city, ask at the International Plaza (in Sapporo JR or near the Clock Tower) for current information and directions.

  • i-cafe (アイ・カフェ), North 5 West 5 (Just west of Sapporo Station, south of Kinokuniya Books.),  +81 11-221-3440. 24h. A large internet cafe with relax chairs, pair booths, drink bar, manga, food, and shower.
  • Biz Cafe (2-minute walk from the North exit of Sapporo Station on 2F behind the Hokuyo Bank.). M-F 10AM-8PM. Open tables with fast LAN and wireless. Unlimited internet, tea, coffee and soft drinks. ¥500.
  • YahooBB Park (Near Tokyu Hands and the North Streetcar Terminus.).This place has permanently closed, though many guidebooks still list it as open.
  • Tully's Coffee (6th floor of Stellar Plaza Central, attached to JR Sapporo Station). Free WiFi and a great view.

Prices in Sapporo



Milk1 liter$2.05
Tomatoes1 kg$8.00
Cheese0.5 kg$10.00
Apples1 kg$8.00
Oranges1 kg$6.40
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$3.90
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$13.00
Coca-Cola2 liters$2.60
Bread1 piece$
Water1.5 l$



Dinner (Low-range)for 2$37.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$58.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2$75.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$5.90
Water0.33 l$0.93
Cappuccino1 cup$4.55
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$6.80
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$4.90
Coca-Cola0.33 l$1.20
Coctail drink1 drink$7.00



Cinema2 tickets$30.00
Gym1 month$70.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$
Theatar2 tickets$100.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$0.20
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$4.50



Antibiotics1 pack$10.00
Tampons32 pieces$
Deodorant50 ml.$7.00
Shampoo400 ml.$5.00
Toilet paper4 rolls$
Toothpaste1 tube$3.90



Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$97.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$50.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$100.00
Leather shoes1$105.00



Gasoline1 liter$1.39
Taxi1 km$1.60
Local Transport1 ticket$2.40

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

  • New Chitose Airport (新千歳空港), 千歳市美々1 (SE of the city, best reached by train or shuttle bus.),  +81 123 23-0111. Customer service 6:20AM-11PM. All international and inter-island flights land at New Chitose Airport to the south east of the city. The route from Tokyo is the most heavily traveled in the world, with several dozen Jumbos flying daily on a variety of carriers and flights as low as ¥10000 one way if you book more than one month in advance. Direct international service to Sapporo is limited to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan,Korea, Sakhalin, Guam and seasonal flights to Macau and Australia, but both JAL and ANA provide nonstop service to Narita for intercontinental connections. Skybus operates a door to door shuttle and the JR trains run every 15 minutes directly to Sapporo station (36–40 minutes, unreserved ¥1040; reserved ¥1340).
  • Okadama Airport (丘珠空港), 東区丘珠町 (North of the city.),  +81 11 785-7871. A few local flights within Hokkaido land at the older Okadama Airport (OKD).

If traveling by plane, you may wish to consider one of the air passes for foreigners sold by Japan Airlines and ANA, including the Japan Explorer Pass and Experience Japan Fare, respectively.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

Getting to Sapporo by train is time consuming and expensive. From Tokyo, for example, a one-way trip takes about eight hours using theHayabusa shinkansen and theHokuto limited express, changing at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station.

The national Japan Rail Passfully covers the journey. If you are just traveling between Tokyo and Hokkaido, you could consider the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass, which is slightly cheaper than the national pass (¥26,000 for advance purchase). This pass covers travel on the shinkansen from Tokyo to Hakodate, and express trains from Hakodate to Sapporo. It can be used on any 6 days within a 14-day period. Unlike the national pass, however, the JR East-South Hokkaido Pass only comes in one version for standard class travel.

Overnight travel

Overnight trains to Hokkaido were discontinued when the shinkansen began operations through the underwater Seikan Tunnel in March 2016.

It is now a little easier to make a trip during the day from Tokyo to Sapporo, with trains making the trip in about 8 hours. If 8 hours is too much, or if you will travel over a longer distance (i.e. from Osaka and cities beyond), you may wish to split up your journey; stop to visit another city along the way, or simply find a station along the bullet train route where you can find cheap accommodations. The latter is beneficial to Rail Pass holders. Potential options for layovers include Hakodate and Aomori.

  • JR Sapporo Station (札幌駅), North 2 West 1 (On the Namboku Line.),  +81 11 222-6130. This is the main train station for Sapporo.

Sapporo Station serves as the hub for long distance services to/from other parts of Hokkaido, with reserved seating available. These include:

North of Sapporo

  • Asahikawa on the Super Kamui, Okhotsk, Super Soya or Sarobetsu(up to 3 trips per hour)
  • Abashiri on the Okhotsk (4 return trips per day)
  • Wakkanai on the Super Soya or Sarobetsu (3 return trips per day)

East of Sapporo

  • Obihiro on the Super Tokachi or Super Ōzora (11 return trips per day)
  • Kushiro on the Super Ōzora (6 return trips per day)

South of Sapporo

  • Hakodate on the Hokuto or Super Hokuto (9 return trips per day)
  • Noboribetsu on the Hokuto, Super Hokuto or Suzuran (14 return trips per day)
  • Muroran on the Suzuran (5 return trips per day)

West of Sapporo

Rapid trains run to Otaru several times per hour with connecting trains operating to the ski resort town of Niseko. During peak periods, a daily round-trip service from Sapporo to Niseko operates.

Transportation - Get In

By Bus

Express buses connect to most points in Hokkaido. The main terminal is next to the Bus Center-Mae station of the subway Tōzai line.

Transportation - Get In

By ferry

Although Sapporo is located inland, there are two major ferry ports nearby: Otaru and Tomakomai. Both have scheduled car and passenger ferry service to points outside Hokkaido.

Transportation - Get Around

Most unusually for a Japanese city, Sapporo is logically organized thanks to its strict grid system. The main thoroughfare, the leafy Ō-Dōri(大通り, literally "Big Street"), runs east-west across the city and divides the city into North and South, while Sōsei-Gawa (創成川, literally "Creation River") divides the city into West and East, running under the main street Eki-Mae-Dōri(駅前道リ、literally "In Front of the Train Station Road"). The address of every block in the center is thus of the type "North X West Y" (prominently signposted at all intersections), making navigation a snap. However, most businesses etc. will still provide maps to their location, building names or landmarks, because the address "North X West Y" or the like simply means that the place you are trying to find will be somewhere in the block, and blocks in the centre of the city can be quite large!

Transportation - Get Around

By train

The JR above-ground trains are reasonably priced and a good option for traveling in Sapporo and surroundings. The trains arrive and depart at specific times. You'll most likely want to take a train to and from the airport.

Transportation - Get Around

By subway

Sapporo has three subway lines, all converging at Ōdōri Station at the center of the grid. The Namboku Line ("North-South") runs north-south, the Tōzai Line runs along Odori east-west. Only the Tōhō Line breaks the mold by running in a C-shaped curve from northeast to southeast. Single fares cost ¥200 and up, with a choice between subway-only tickets or transfer (subway, bus and streetcar) tickets. The simplest option is the With Youstored value card (lowest denomination ¥1000). On weekends and public holidays, the Donichika-Kippu (ドニチカキップ) allows unlimited 1-day subway travel for ¥500. On weekdays, the One-Day Card allows the same, but costs ¥800. There is also a Bus and Subway Transfer One-Day Card, which allows unlimited 1-day travel on buses, subways, and streetcars (¥1000). Fares for children are about half those for adults.

Transportation - Get Around

By streetcar

A streetcar of relatively little utility to most visitors trundles around the southwestern side of Sapporo, connecting to the subway at Susukino. Its most important stops are probably the Chuo Library (Main Public Library in Sapporo) and the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway. It's most useful in winter, when walking the icy footpaths to get to the library or otherwise less-accessible south-western areas of the city becomes quite treacherous. Single-trip tickets are ¥170. They also sell a "Do-san-ko Pass" on weekends and holidays which allows you to ride all you want for a day for ¥300. Since this is less than the cost of 2 normal trips, it is usually advisable to buy this if you are going to make a round trip on an eligible day.

Transportation - Get Around

By car

You could try to drive in the city, but parking might be problematic. Generally speaking, using the subways and buses is recommended. There are countless pay parking lots in Sapporo. One of the largest ones is about 100m south of the Susukino South Toyoko Inn, and it's a short walk from the subway.






For those living in Japan who have an omiyage (souvenir) obligation to fill in your Japanese office when you return from your Hokkaido holiday, the best omiyage to buy in Sapporo is the ubiquitous Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人, "White Lovers"). It is a chocolate slice sandwiched in two wafers of sweet biscuit, individually wrapped and available boxed in a range of different quantities — tasty enough, but rather bland, and few Westerners would associate the taste with Japan. The original flavour is white chocolate sandwiched in plain sweet biscuit, but there is also a dark chocolate version. It's available in every souvenir store in the city (try the Sapporo JR area or Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcade when shopping for souvenirs), and also most souvenir stores around the island.

Being a wintery kind of place for a good part of each year, Sapporo also has many stores selling all manner of snow goods. At the beginning and end of each season, many good deals on the previous year's gear can be found, often at discounts of up to 60% off, sometimes more! Also, there are several sports recycle stores in the city and suburbs where good deals on barely-used gear can be found, thanks to the Japanese fondness for having new gear every season. Ask Tourist Information to help you locate sports recycle and snow-goods stores.


Sapporo is famous for hairy crab (毛蟹 kegani), an expensive treat available at any seafood restaurant, and miso ramen (味噌ラーメン), a more affordable local variation of the ubiquitous noodle dish with miso paste added to the stock. The ramen in particular will warm you up nicely on a chilly winter day. Sapporo soup curry (just what it sounds like) is also increasingly famous.

As elsewhere in Hokkaido, you can also enjoy dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, chocolate and ice cream), seafood (especially as sushi), fruits (honeydew melon, strawberries) and meat (sausages, ham, bacon and beef).

Kuwanomi (桑の実) is a popular mulberry. It is red or black in color and sweet. Preserved kuwanomi can be made into jam, which is a traditional food. In elementary schools, students make kuwanomi jam every year.

  • Nijō Ichiba (二条市場), South 2-3, East 1-2 (5 min from Odori Stn). 7AM-6PM.Sapporo's equivalent to Tokyo's famed Tsukiji Fish Market, this is where the best of Hokkaido's catch is traded — and like its Tokyo counterpart, there are many restaurants here offering top-quality, cut-price sushi and sashimi. Popular with locals and tourists alike.
  • Aji No Tokeidai (味の時計台). The best-known ramen noodle chain in Sapporo, now franchised around the country. Many famous people have eaten here including former Japanese prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama. Miso ramen is the most popular dish, but if you want something special, order the bata-kon ramen, a Hokkaido specialty made with a hearty broth of corn and butter. ¥600-1000.
  • Ramen Yokochō (ラーメン横丁) (Just east of Susukino Station.). Also known asRamen Gai, this alley is chock full of ramen shops of all varieties. Get butter corn ramen, crab ramen, and even scallop ramen. It's touristy but fun, and locals come here as well.
  • Sapporo Beer Garden. At the same location as the Beer Museum is the Beer Garden, an incredibly popular Genghis Khan (mutton barbeque) restaurant. Even though the dining rooms span three large buildings, come early and expect to wait. The restaurant offers a 100-minute all you can eat and drink plan, as well as à la carte. Bibs are provided, because the food can get rather messy.
  • Romantei. One of the most popular sweets shops. Famous for its Chocolate Mont Blanc, a delicious concoction of sponge cake, whipped cream and ganache. Other delectables include cream puffs, apple pie, and strawberry bavarian. Located at Moiwa Mountain. There is also a takeaway shop at Tokyu Department Store, right outside Sapporo Station. A second dine-in shop is located at Sumikawa Station.
  • Hiraku. Specializes in Hokkaido oysters served both Japanese and Western style, although there are other options on the menu as well. Reasonable prices, friendly atmosphere, popular.
  • Goemon (五右衛門), Miyanomori 4-7-2-32, Chuo-ku. A famous and popular udon restaurant with a long history.
  • Cafe PhytonSouth 2 East 2 (Just north of Nijō Ichiba.). M-F 8AM-midnight, Sa-Su 8AM-8PM. This small coffee shop has freshly made specialty coffees and a few Belgian beers by the bottle.
  • Nijō Shokuhin (二条食品), South 3 East 2 (On the NE corner of Nijō Ichiba.), +81 11 231-2358fax: +81 11 231-2362, e-mail: . This small shop is a seafood grocer in front and a restaurant in back. The menu consists of fresh seafood. Lunch specials ¥900-1500.

Sights & Landmarks

  • Clock Tower (時計台 Tokeidai) (Close to Ōdōri Station.). This rather diminutive building has become a symbol of Sapporo, mostly by being the oldest building still standing. It was constructed in 1878 for the Sapporo Agricultural College (now the Hokkaido University) and would not look out of place in "Smalltown U.S.A." The inside has a small retrospective of its history. Visitor beware, as this is for some reason a mecca for Japanese tourists coming to Sapporo who feel that no trip to Sapporo would be complete without a photo in front of the Tokeidai, but was actually recently rated as Japan's third "most disappointing" tourist attraction! ¥200.
  • Ishiya Chocolate Factory (イシヤチョコレートファクトリー). The chocolate factory has an incredibly corny, but fun, tour building up to a view of the actual chocolate making floor, and ending with a random toy museum. Also there are two restaurants, a souvenir store, and an hourly robot show complete with annoying music. Famous for its white chocolate, which is sold under the brand "White Lovers" (白い恋人 shiroi koibito), and is only available in Hokkaido. There is also a cake buffet available at the restaurant on the top floor for "¥1,500" but reservations must be made 3 days in advance. ¥600.
  • Ōdōri Park (大通公園, ōdōri-kōen). Sapporo's most famous park, it is in the center of town and is considered to be a symbol of Sapporo. Although quite narrow (one might argue that it is a nice boulevard), the park is quite long, stretching over fifteen blocks across downtown Sapporo. Filled with (during the summer) numerous flowers, trees, and fountains, Ōdōri Park provides a welcome respite from the maddening crowds of the surrounding city.
  • Sapporo TV Tower (さっぽろテレビ塔) (At the eastern end of Ōdōri.). A tourist trap carbon copy of the Eiffel Tower with an observation deck 90m high.¥700.
  • Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール博物館 Sapporo Biru Hakubutsukan), North 7, East 9 (Next to the Ario Shopping Center. On the Loop 88 Factory bus line from the Ōdōri Subway Station. Close to JR Naebo Station (ask the attendant there for a map).),  +81 1-1731-4368. 9AM-6PM. Run by the Sapporo Brewing Company, offers free guided tours covering the history of beer in Japan and the process of brewing. The museum is not very big and the printed descriptions on the displays are in Japanese. Despite this, it makes an interesting trip. At the end of the tour you can taste all the different beers. Finish off the tour with more brews at the Beer Garden next door. Beer sample ¥200, 3 samples ¥500.
  • Hokkaido Pioneer Village (開拓の村) (JR Bus from Sapporo or Shin-Sapporo station). A large historical village on the outskirts of Sapporo, offers a snapshot of Japan in the newly-industrialised age. The front gate (an old railway station) opens up into a series of opens alleys and buildings of the style pre-20th century. Also a variety of different gardens and shrines. Don't expect costumed performers however — everything is self-guided. An English map is available. ¥630.
  • 100th anniversary Memorial Park (百年記念塔, hyakunen kinentō) (Just down the road from Pioneer Village.). This is the site of a giant (and somewhat imposing) tower which can be climbed, providing a good vantage point of Sapporo (though quite some distance from the city center) and surrounding mountains. This site is popular with school groups. Free.
  • Moiwayama (藻岩山) (Can be reached by cable car, or with a car, the summit (and tourist centre) can be reached directly.). This mountain, also called Moiwa Mountain, overlooks the city and is especially worthwhile at night to observe the city lights. An entrance fee is charged for cars.
  • Asahiyama Park (旭山記念公園 Asahiyama Kinen Kōen). A beautiful flower garden and natural park that overlooks the city center. Noted for being a good place for romance, and is particularly good for cherry blossoms in spring and autumn colors, and local wildlife such as squirrels and foxes (somewhat of a feral pest around Sapporo). Free.
  • Hokkaido Shrine (北海道神宮 Hokkaidō Jingū).Free.
  • Jōzankei (定山渓) (On the southern outskirts of Sapporo (but still nominally in the city), a 40-60 minute drive.). This area is famous for both its onsen (due perhaps to proximity to Sapporo) and the very beautiful autumn colours (especially around the Hōheikyō Dam).
  • JR Tower (JRタワー). The newly redeveloped building near JR Sapporo Station marks the center of the city. It is higher than the TV tower observatory is. Affording panoramic views. As a bonus for men, the observation level has a men's room with a view!
  • Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (北海道立近代美術館), North 1 West 17, Chuo (From Nishi 18 Station on the Tozai Line, 5 minutes on foot, located in a small park.), +81 11 644-6881. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. A modern museum filled with collections of contemporary works and especially glass objects, Pascin of École de Paris, as well as temporary exhibits. The main hall is the center of exhibits of works owned by the museum and the special facility is reserved for "expo" of foreign and Japanese arts. Each summer the museum holds a special course for children. Adults ¥250, university students ¥150.
  • Sapporo Art Park (札幌芸術の森, sapporo geijutsu no mori), 南区芸術の森2丁目75 (West of Highway 453, several kilometers south of central Sapporo.), +81 11 592-5111. Containing over 74 modern and contemporary sculptures, this art park makes for a great day trip.
  • Moerenuma Park (モエレ沼公園, Moerenuma Kōen). A popular excursion for Japanese families, this park offers several acres of carefully manicured grass and monumental landscape installations. Highlights include a 5-story glass pyramid and a man-made mountain, from which one can see all of Sapporo. Take the Toho Line to Kanjo-dori-higashi, then the Higashi 69 or 79 bus to Chuo Bus Kita Satsunae Line to Moere Koen Higashiguchi. Doing so allows you to enter the park from the east entrance. Rental of bicycles is available, from 7AM - 7PM. free.
  • Hokkaido University Botanic Garden (北海道大学植物園 Hokkaido Daigaku Shokubutsuen), North 3 West 8, Chuo (From JR Sapporo train station, go south 3 blocks and west 5 blocks), +81 11 221-0066. 9AM-4PM. A large botanical garden. There are two rock gardens, a rose garden, a lilac display, a greenhouse, and various other gardens. There's a small museum in the garden with artifacts from Hokkaido, some dating back to the Meiji period (no extra cost). In the winter, only the greenhouse and museum are of interest. ¥400.
  • Former Hokkaido Prefectural Government Building (北海道府旧本府舎), Chuo-ku N3 W6 (Two minutes walk from Sapporo station, in between Ōdōri Park and Sapporo Station),  +81 11 231-4111. This beautiful western style red brick building is a famous site of Sapporo and worth taking a quick look, as it is in the center. Free.

Things to do

  • Sapporo Snow Festival (雪祭り Yuki Matsuri). First week of Feb. This is Sapporo's largest event. The festival is best known for the ice sculpture competitionattracting artists from around the world, competing to create the largest and most elaborate artworks from ice and snow. The festival is focused on Odori Koen, in the centre of Sapporo. It consists of a combination of large-scale replicas and artistic sculptures; children-aimed attractions; and a separate section for world-wide competitors (where you can see a wide range of smaller artistic sculptures). The festival should be enjoyed both in the day -- but particularly at night when the sculptures (especially the larger ones) are lit up. When the weather is warmer and there's a bit of melting, the smaller sculptures are literally remade every night to ensure that they are in perfect condition the next day. Book accommodation early, because Sapporo gets booked out during the festival.
  • Mt. Teine (手稲山 Teineyama). A ski mountain within easy drive from most of Sapporo. This ski mountain featured in the 1972 Winter Olympics. Offers a good mix of beginner and experienced slopes (in two distinct parks; Highlands and Olympia which have recently been connected). You can purchase a Skip (スキップsukippu, ski + trip) ticket at any JR ticket office for roughly ¥4500 (depending on which station you start from) that includes roundtrip train tickets to JR Teine station, roundtrip bus tickets from Teine station to the ski area, and a four-hour lift ticket. At Teine Station, make sure to exit at South gate #3 to find the correct bus.
  • Skiing. As befits a former Winter Olympics site, Sapporo is famous for its ski resorts, which are easily accessible by bus. Niseko, arguably Japan's top destination for powder, is two hours away by bus.

Festivals and events

Each February, the Sapporo Snow Festival is held. The main site is the Odori Park, and other sites include Susukino (known as the Susukino Ice Festival) and the Sapporo Satoland. Once Makomanai area in Minami-ku was one of the festival sites, but it was abolished and moved to the Satoland site in 2006. Many of the snow and ice statues are built by the armies of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. In 2006, the number of visitors at the Sapporo Snow Festival marked 1,985,000.

Every May, the Sapporo Lilac Festival is held. Lilac was brought to Sapporo in 1889 by an American educator, Sarah Clara Smith. At the festival, people enjoy the flower and wine with concerts.

Every June, the Yosakoi Soran Festival is held. The sites of the festival are centered in the Odori Park and the street leading to Susukino, and there are other festival sites. In the festival, many dance teams dance to their music which are composed based on a Japanese traditional song, "Sōran Bushi." Members of the dancing teams wear special costumes and compete on the roads or stages constructed on the festival sites. In 2006, 350 teams were organized with around 45,000 dancers and over 1,860,000 people visited at the festival.

During the summer, the Sapporo Summer Festival takes place in the heart of the city. People enjoy drinking in the beer gardens constructed in Odori Park and on the streets of Susukino district. This festival consists of a number of fairs such as Tanuki Festival and Susukino Festival as well as the Odori Park site.

Every September and August, the Sapporo Autumn Fest is held. It is similar to Oktoberfest in Munich.

Every December there's a Christmas market in Odori park similar to the original German markets.

From November through January, many citizens enjoy the Sapporo White Illumination.


The drink of choice when in Sapporo is obviously Sapporo Beer, and a good option for this is the Beer Museum. Susukino (すすきの), to the south of the center, is one of Japan's largest nightlife (and red-light) districts, originally created to keep labourers in Hokkaido. It has a somewhat unsavory reputation due to heavy yakuza involvement in the business, but is generally safe for travelers not actively looking for trouble. Get there on the subway Namboku line, Susukino station.

  • O'Neills Irish Pub (In Sapporo Station.). An escape from Japan while you wait for your train: here you can watch baseball on the big screen, listen to U2 and eat fish and chips from photocopied newspaper.
  • Leibspeise - Otaru BeerChuo-ku South 2 West 3, Chome Parade Building 3F(Behind the PARCO Department Store.),  +81 11 252-5807. M-F 5PM-midnight, Sa Su noon-midnight. A local Brewery serving German style beers. Rotisserie grill and other food is also served. Free WiFi on request. 2 hour all you can drink ¥1800.

Chuo Ward,  +81 11 272-6665. 4PM-2AM. Since opening in 2006 it has become the most popular pub between foreigners living in Sapporo, Australian and Japanese bi-lingual staff will welcome anybody. Worldwide beers available at cheap prices. Food, tex mex, fish & chips, and beautiful beef burgers. Free wifi. Open from midday on weekends. Cheap.

  • Paul's CafeNorth 5 West 5 (Next to the railway station, in Century Royal Hotel Building.). 11AM-10PM. Belgium beer and rotisserie grill chicken. While you wait for your train, Paul will delight you with his wonderful beer selection.
  • Wine Bar Giulio VierciChuo-ku South 3 West 4 (Silver Bldg 2F),  +81 11 271-5923. M-Sa noon-2:30PM, 5PM-midnight. One of the only places to get authentic Italian wine and food in Sapporo. Stop by for real Italian snacks or multi-course meals. Giulio has many well-known Italian wines, both high and low end.

Safety in Sapporo

Stay Safe

No smoking. Downtown Sapporo is a smoke-free area. Smoking on public streets and in public buildings will get you fined, should the police be inclined, so please use smoking areas in cafes. Relatedly, cigarette vending machines require a special ID card.


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