Hokkaido’s 150-year-old capital and Japan’s fifth-largest city, Sapporo (札幌) is a spacious and laid-back place. The compact city center is well-laid-out and it has a lot of parks dotted with Western-style historical landmarks, which makes a pleasant stroll. If you are looking for favorite items, they are all here. With grand-scale parks, excellent ski areas, relaxed onsen and varied museums popping up around the city. Visitors enjoy Hokkaido-style dining scene, drinking options, joyful concerts, lively snow and food festivals throughout the year. Sapporo is Hokkaido’s key transport hub and one of the best places to start or finish your journey in Japan.

Highlights at a Glance

Attractions & Sights The heart of Sapporo has pleasant gridded streets, relaxed parks and handsome Western-style historic buildings. You can easily explore on foot for a day. A good starting or meeting point for a stroll is a white-marble monument of Myomu, at the JR Sapporo Station south gate.

Events & Festivals Sapporo Snow Festival, lively beer garden, autumn food fest and romantic illumination, most of the city’s international festivals are held in Odori Park throughout the year.

Eat & Drink Sapporo is the gourmet capital of Hokkaido. It has a wide variety of cuisines with good value. Especially miso-flavor ramen, soup curry (chicken and vegetables into the curry soup) and jingisukan (mutton barbecue) are famous dishes. The Sapporo Beer Classic is officially sells only in Hokkaido.

Shopping The major shopping districts are Sapporo Station Area and Odori. The department stores offer everything from cosmetics to clothes to homewares. Be sure to ask about paperwork for tax refunds.

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Room rates tend to be high because foreign tourists are increasing rapidly these days. Especially skyrocket on weekends during the snow festival, summer and winter, with completely booked a few month ago. Book well ahead is essential. There are several 24-hour internet cafes (with showers and free soft drinks) in downtown. Price is around ¥1500 per night.

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