Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido, is one of the first places to visit for many tourists venturing to the northern island of Japan. Sapporo is translated as “dry, great river” in the language of the indigenous Ainu people and is famous for its beautiful culture and traditional heritage. On top of that, it’s also famous for its beer and the annual Sapporo Snow Festival which attracts over 2 million tourists from all over the world.
Arriving at Shin-Chitose airport, the city center is about an hour away by train where Odori and Susukino make up what is downtown Sapporo. Odori Park is also famous for displaying large, intricately carved ice sculptures during the snow festival every February. Susukino is popular for its Kouraku Ramen Meitengai which is an alley filled with ramen restaurants that hold many local favorites such as the miso butter corn ramen, as well as the famous ebi prawn ramen.
The lighted streets and malls of downtown Sapporo are reminiscent of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, where you will also find plenty of other restaurants offering various foods such as fresh seafood, soup curry, and Genghis Khan, otherwise known as a Mongolian lamb barbecue.
A 20-minute walk or short bus ride away is access to the Sapporo Beer Museum. Also, consider checking out the Sapporo TV Tower which stands at a whopping 147 meters and is on the way.
Wander through the museum and learn about the history and process of the beer brewing industry in Japan for free. After that, head down to the sampling hall for some beers and snacks. The 3 beers on tap are the Sapporo Black Label, Sapporo Classic, and Kaitakushi, which was the very first type of beer made when the brewery was established. A sampling set of these 3 goes for 500 yen and comes with snacks of biscuits or cheese.
Away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Sapporo, there are a few places closer to history and nature in the suburbs. Further northeast from downtown Sapporo is Moerenuma Park, where skis and sleds can be used for free during winter. It also has nice sprawling grounds for nice leisurely walks.
Southeast from downtown Sapporo is the Kaitaku Historical Village, which showcases the thought and way of life in the mid 19th to 20th century. Experience the old style of living with horse-drawn carriages, stone paved roads and old wooden and stone buildings. Traditional farmhouses are also showcased in the village.
These are only some of my top picks for exploring Sapporo, but there are also many other activities such as the Mt Moiwa Ropeway, Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park, and Maruyama Zoo if your itinerary has time to spare! Enjoy your Sapporo adventures!