Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido, a mountainous Japanese island in the north. Known for the famous beer named after it, Sapporo is the fifth largest city in Japan and is also well known for its skiing and annual Sapporo Snow Festival that has enormous sculptures carved out of ice. Sapporo also hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, so visitors will find random ski hills and jumps scattered around the city. From the Sapporo Beer Museum and salmon tours to the after-hours sightseeing model course, guests will find many ways to entertain themselves during their next visit to Sapporo.
If you happen to be visiting Sapporo during the wintertime, you won’t want to miss Sapporo’s Winter Nights Sparkle, which is a breathtaking contrast of white snow and colorful lights that you can observe while walking around in Odori Park and other places around town. Visit the Sapporo Beer Museum, which shares the history of the city’s brewing industry and offers tastings and a beer garden. Various ski hills and jumps serve as reminders of the 1972 Winter Olympics, such as the Okura-yama Ski Jump Stadium—which is still in use and where you can occasionally catch a practice in session. Odori-koen is a beautiful park in Sapporo that is 13 blocks long and decorated with green lawns, benches, fountains, and beautiful sculptures. Many of the city’s major events and festivals take place here. Another garden to visit is the Hokkaido University outdoor garden, which houses a collection of 200 plants and herbs that were historical used by the native Japanese Ainu as medicine, food and raw materials for clothing. Check out the city’s top collection of modern art at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, and snap pictures of the stunning Old Hokkaido Government Office Building, which features a magnificent neo-baroque style surrounded by neatly manicure lawns. If you’re looking to spot cherry blossoms, visit one of the oldest shrines, Hokkaido-jingu, which is known for its spectacular spring blossoms. Other must-see attractions include Hokkaido Brewery, which is one of the current brewing and bottling facilities for Sapporo beer that offers guided tours (Japanese only), and going for ramen in Ramen Yokocho—a famous alleyway in the Susukino entertainment district that is filled with ramen shops.
The ski resort town of Niseko is just under two hours away from Sapporo and offers premier skiing. Located near the dormant volcano of Mt. Yotei, Niseko is surrounded by mountains that have numerous hot springs resorts. The Shiribetsu River is known for the white-water rapids, and there are also several golf courses in the area set against the snow-capped mountains. Otaru is an hour away by car and is a small town along the coast that is famous for its European-inspired canal, as well as its seafood and music box museum.
From houses and cottages to apartments, there are many different types of accommodation and areas to stay in Sapporo, depending on what you’re looking for. Odori is a quieter area with residential parts mixed in with office and commercial buildings, while Sapporo Station area is convenient and located to large shopping malls and department stores. Susukino is a popular entertainment district that has lots of restaurants and is close to the covered shopping street area.
Public transportation is convenient and efficient in Sapporo, with three subway lines, a tramline, and several bus companies that offer visitors many different options for getting around town. The Sapporo Municipal Subway is the most accessible type of transportation for sightseeing and operates three lines: the Namboku Line, Tozai Line, and Toho Line. Sapporo Eki-mae Bus Terminal is the main bus terminal in Sapporo, and is located beneath the Esta building on the south side of JR Sapporo Station. Chuo Bus Terminal is another popular stop where most buses stop at, and Porocle is the city’s bike-share program, which has more than 30 kiosks in the downtown area.
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