Hugging the gentle mountains and forest, the leafy Maruyama Park has a nice shrine, zoo, baseball and ski jump stadiums. English missionary to the Ainu people John Batchelor (1855-1944) wrote ‘the most exhilarating promenade in the neighborhood of Sapporo’ in his book.
Maruyama Park is Sapporo’s classic cherry-blossom viewing spot during Golden Week (late Apr-early May). Many people admire thousands of cherry trees and enjoy jingisukan (mutton barbecue) parties. The approach from Maruyama-koen subway station to Hokkaido Jingu is walkable throughout the year.
(北海道神宮) Sapporo’s oldest and most famous shinto shrine established in 1869, Hokkaido Jingu is in a wooded grove accessed via a 600m-long gravel approach from the eastern end of Odori. The main shrine was rebuilt after being destroyed by incendiary fire in 1974, but this shrine is one of Sapporo’s most popular places to visit with foreigners.
More info www.hokkaidojingu.or.jp
Sapporo Maruyama Zoo
(札幌市円山動物園) Hokkaido’s first zoo established in 1951, Maruyama Zoo has around 170 species from Hokkaido to Africa. The main attractions are the Asian elephants that arrived from Myanmar in 2019. There are feeding sessions, free guided background tours and a children’s zoo.
More info www.city.sapporo.jp/zoo
(札幌市円山球場) Hokkaido’s high school and amateur baseball teams play games at this open-air stadium from spring to autumn. Same-day tickets cost just ¥500 (¥100 for students). More info www.shsf.jp/maruyama
(円山) During the warmer months, you can scale neighboring Maru-yama (225m) in about an hour from Maruyama-koen subway station, as well as Hokkaido Jingu. The wooded trail, passes 88 kannon (buddhist deity of mercy), starts from Daishi-do temple. At the summit looks down the city center.
Events & Festivals
(初詣) Hokkaido Jingu is the most popular Hatsu-mode, the first shrine visit of the new year, in Sapporo. The shrine gate opens just after the midnight on 1 January and continues to 7pm. Countless visitors come here in the first three days (called san-ga-nichi) of January.
(札幌まつり) This shinto festival is held in mid June, with parades of portable shrines and floats from Hokkaido Jingu to the city center. Thousands people dressed in traditional costume and carry them. Kagura (sacred dance) and shinto performances are held in the shrine grounds on 14 and 15 June.
Maruyama-koen Station is on the Tozai subway line from Odori (5min; ¥200). The exit 3 is the most convenient to the park entrance. If you don’t want to walk to the zoo, take the JR Bus 15 from Maruyama-koen Station stop 4 and get off at the Dobutsu-en-mae (10min; ¥210).
From late April to mid October, JR Bus Kuramaru (くらまる) shuttles (hourly to twice hourly; flat ¥210) run to Okura-yama Jump Stadium from Maruyama-koen Station stop 4 via Maruyama Zoo main gate. Kuramaru shuttles leave from 9am to 4pm. JR Bus 11 runs from Maruyama-koen Station stop 1 to Moiwa-yama Ropeway (13min; flat ¥210).