Located on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, Sapporo is known as a winter wonderland. But this vibrant city – the fifth largest in the country – is more than just a stopover on the way to the ski fields. These are the best things to do in Sapporo you should not miss.
The Best Things to Do in Sapporo, Japan
Stroll through Odori Park
This wide green boulevard cuts across 12 blocks, adding lawns, flower gardens, benches and sculptures to the heart of Sapporo. The Sapporo TV Tower stands at the eastern end of Odori Park, like a red and blue version of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, with a giant digital clock reading the time. The 90-meter (295-foot) observatory offers spectacular views of the ice sculptures and crowds that gather during the Sapporo Snow Festival each winter. A few blocks north, the JR Tower above the city’s train station is another must-see – The T38 Observatory on the 38th floor of Sapporo’s tallest structure offers an equally awe-inspiring view jealous.
Step back in time at the Sapporo Clock Tower
Sapporo Tokeidai is one of the city’s few surviving western-style buildings. Built in 1878, the wooden clock tower overlooks an American colonial town. The Sapporo Clock Tower still chimes daily and takes visitors through its history in a small museum. The former Hokkaidō Government Office is another nearby landmark, dating back to 1888; The flower garden and its 2.5 million red bricks continue to attract admirers long after their role as the administrative center. For a taste of Japanese architecture, head to Hokkaidō Shrine next to Maruyama Park; Its impressive gardens bloom during cherry blossom season and during the Hokkaidō Temple Festival, which takes place every June.
Conquer Mount Moiwa
Sapporo is surrounded by a series of forested hills, and the best and most accessible place to see them is from the top of Mount Moiwa (or Moiwa-yama in Japanese). The cable car takes visitors three-quarters of the way up to the peak of 531m (1,742ft), while a small cable car covers the final stretch. The summit has an observatory, restaurant, planetarium and even a small ski resort on its southeastern slopes in winter. The panorama is especially impressive when the city lights sparkle after sunset.
Built in 1871, the Hokkaidō Shrine (Hokkaidō Jingū) is one of the country’s most important (and visited) Shinto religious sites. Located next to Maruyama Park, the shrine became even more famous after it was dedicated to the deity of the venerable Emperor Meiji in 1964.
The site is large, and in addition to the huge temple building, it also includes a large garden filled with cherry blossoms, a major attraction when they bloom in spring.
Jozankei Onsen Hot Spring
Less than an hour’s drive from Sapporo is the spectacular Jozankei Onsen Hot Spring. A trip here is a summer or winter excursion well worth the time, especially if it can be combined with a stop at one of the many upscale spa hotels in the area.
Nestled in a beautiful valley with mountains that make for a breathtaking view, the mineral waters of these famous hot springs have attracted numerous visitors from Sapporo and beyond (up to two and a half million per year). ). years) since 1866. The big draw? The healing and restorative qualities of sodium chloride rich water.
Scale the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium
More can be seen at the top of this 133m (436ft) ski jump on the western edge of the city, which Sapporo used in the Olympics. A scale booster seat peaks at the top of Mount Okura. At the bottom, the Crystalkurayama Crystal House sells souvenirs and the Sapporo Olympic Museum simulates speed skating and ski jumping. Sports lovers should also head to Sapporo Dome further south. The 2002 FIFA World Cup venue is currently the home ground of the spontaneous baseball team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The cherry trees and maple leaves of nearby Maruyama Park come alive in spring and autumn.
Shikotsu-Tōya National Park
Shikotsu-Tōya National Park (Shikotsu Tōya Kokuritsu Kōen) near Sapporo has three distinct areas with many stunning volcanic landscapes, along with numerous crater lakes and hot springs. The largest part of the National Park is right at the gate of Sapporo, making it an ideal day trip just an hour away by bus.
The highlight is 1,893 meters high Yotei, an extinct volcano located above the town of Kutchan. In fact, the town serves as a good base for those looking to make the four-hour climb to the three craters at the top known as Father, Mother, and Little Cauldron.