Sapporo City An Exploration Guide

Sapporo is one of the most popular cities on Japan’s most northern island, Hokkaido. It is often used as a hub for visitors traveling to the island due to its location.

Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido and ranks as the fifth-largest city in all of Japan. Today it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, reaching a population of 2.6 million people from just a grand total of just 7 residents in 1857.

Sapporo City Skyline

Over the years the country has changed in its role, originally being used as an administrative center during the Meiji period, to the location of the winter games in 1972 and as a hub for travel today.

However, this mix means that Sapporo is one of the most interesting places to visit and that there is something for everyone to explore.

Sapporo City Street View

Because there is so much to see and do in and around Sapporo, it is important to know exactly what you would like to do in advance so that there is no chance of you missing out on a great experience.

Planning your trip ahead of time can also help you to arrange things such as transport and budget. Here we’ll tell you about the best attractions in Sapporo.

The Historic Village

Located in the Sapporo suburbs, the historic village is an outdoor museum that showcases some of the historic buildings still standing on the island. The museum houses 60 buildings that date back to the Taisho and Meiji periods from all over Hokkaido. 

Sapporo Historic District

Within the museum, there are four different sections: a fishing village, a town, a farm, and a mountain village. Looking at each of these different sections of the museum will truly leave you with an appreciation for just how far the island has come in the past 100 years. 

If you have fallen in love with the history of Hokkaido in this historic village then you are in luck as the Hokkaido museum is just a short 10-minute walk from the village.

Primary School Hallway Interior at Historical Village of Hokkaido

This museum is home to documents and artifacts representing the rich history of the island. Here you will get a better appreciation not only for the architecture but also the agriculture and the geography of the island.

Historic Village And Museum Official Website

The snow festival

If you are planning to visit Hokkaido during the winter months then make sure that you do not miss out on seeing the snow festival. The festival only runs for a single week in the month of February and showcases some incredible snow and ice sculptures.  

Be prepared to face the crowds though as the Sapporo snow festival is one of the most popular winter attractions in Japan and many people travel from all over the country to see the incredible sculptures.

The Snow Festival is held at Sapporo Odori Park and features a myriad of sculpture

However, the festival is relatively new beginning in the 1950s by a few students who decided to build sculptures out of snow in the local park. 

Every year the event typically attracts around 2 million people, both Japanese and foreign, and as a result, it has become very popular. There are 3 different sites for the festival, but the biggest and most popular is the Odori park site. 

Cup Noodle Snow sculpture at the Sapporo Snow Festival

If you are traveling with children then make sure to visit the Tsu Dome site as this often has snow games and rides such as slides for children to enjoy. 

Sapporo Snow Festival Official Website

The Sapporo Beer Museum

If you are looking for a way to kick back and relax whilst in Sapporo then consider heading to the beer museum. The island was actually the birthplace of beer in Japan and as a result, Sapporo beer is up there with the oldest beer brands in the country, starting in 1877.

Sapporo Beer Museum

The beer museum is located within an old brewery and was first opened to the public in 1987, 110 years after it started making beer.

The museum will guide you through how beer was made and stored in Japan and for a smaller extra fee, there is a selection of different beers to try at the end of the tour.

Big Boiler Exhibition at the Sapporo Beer Museum

The museum is open daily from 11 am to 6 pm, with the exception of Mondays and national holidays. It works as a great insight into the cultural history of both Japan and the island of Hokkaido.

If you are a beer enthusiast then you may be able to note any difference between the brewing process here and elsewhere.

Sapporo Beer Museum Official Website

Moerenuma Park

Hokkaido is an island that is famous for its natural beauty. So, if this is the reason for your travel then you should not miss out on a trip to Moerenuma Park. Designed by Isamu Noguchi, the park can be found on the outskirts of the city and is surrounded by a marsh.

However, this is not your average park but it has very unique and unusual features that make it stand out from the rest. Opened in 2005, Moerenuma park has a number of manmade features and structures designed to intrigue the viewer and entertain them. For example, Mount Moere was built specifically for the park and was not there beforehand.

Mount Moere Mountain at Moerenuma Park

In fact, the park was built on the site of landfills. The park was designed to create beauty and interest where there was none before. Unfortunately, the designer passed away not long after the plans and design were finalized. 

Glass Pyramid in Moerenuma Park 

The park also has an information center in the form of a glass pyramid, several hiking trails, a playground, and a fountain that has shows every day throughout the summer. There is even a manmade bathing area and bike rentals. So, whatever your interests are there is something for everyone here.

Moerenuma Park Official Website

Teine ski resort

If you are looking for some adventure on your trip to Sapporo and you are arriving in winter then look for a ski resort. Teine ski resort is just 40 minutes out of the city center and is home to some great ski runs. In fact, two of the runs here were used for the winter Olympics in 1972.

Teine Ski Resort Official Website

There are two different zones within the resort, an upper zone, and a lower Olympic zone. The upper zone is more suitable for advanced skiers and snowboarders with a snow park and steep runs while the lower zone offers great runs for beginners. 

A Further Exploration Of Sapporo

Mount Moiwa

Mount Moiwa is a peak in Sapporo, Hokkaido, about 5 kilometers southwest of the city center and 6 kilometers southwest of Sapporo Station.

Mt. Moiwa is a resort for Sapporo residents and tourists, with a ropeway and a highway passing through it, as well as an observatory and a ski resort in the winter.

Mount Moiwa Official Website

Shiroi Koibito Park

A sweet fantasy land where you can tour the sweets and chocolate factory. The Shiroi Koibito is a cookie with chocolate sandwiched between langue de chat biscuits, is one of Sapporo’s most famous sweets.

Shiroi Koibito Park brings you behind the scenes to see how cookies are prepared and even make your own chocolate or cookies.

Shiroi Koibito Park Official Website

Sapporo’s Nijo Market and Curb Market

The Nijo Market in downtown Sapporo is a well-known market that dates back to the early Meiji period and is the place to go if you want to sample Hokkaido’s seasonal fare.

Try the sashimi-topped rice and sushi, which make the most of the morning’s fresh seafood, or the crabs still crawling in water tanks that are cooked on the spot. The market area contains almost 100 stores shops and eateries.

Nijo Fish Market Official Website

Susukino Entertainment District

Susukino Entertainment District is located between Sapporo Station and Odori in Sapporo, is the city’s primary entertainment district, including bars, restaurants, cafés, theaters, stores, hotels, pachinko parlors, and active nightlife areas. Susukino is home to thousands of pubs and restaurants, notably the numerous ramen eateries packed within Ramen Yokocho (Ramen Alley).

To sum up

Sapporo is often used as a central base for people visiting Hokkaido. However, there is so much to see and do in the city itself that you may want to add extra time to your trip. There is something for just about everyone in or around Sapporo ranging from shopping to historical museums and even winter sports. 

Shopping street in Sapporo

Whether you are traveling solo, with friends, or as a family you are sure to be able to fill your time in Sapporo with fun and interesting activities no matter what your interests. If you are coming to the island during peak season then consider booking activities in advance so that you don’t miss out.

Visit Sapporo Official Website

Getting around the city is fairly easy thanks to the buses and trains available, but if you are planning on also traveling further afield around the island consider renting a car as this will let you explore at your own pace. However, public transport is typically affordable and very reliable.

Virtual Tour Of Sapporo (4k)

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.