Sapporo, the key city of northern Japan, is famous for its Snow Festival, nearby ski resorts, and delicious cuisine. But Sapporo is much more than that. It boasts much cooler and shorter summer months and beautiful autumn and spring scenery.
It is also a very walkable city as the nearby districts and famous parks are less than 10 kilometers away. Surely, people who like walking will be able to enjoy this small and yet enjoyable city of the north. Here’s a guide for those who are keen to try walking around the nearby parks and interesting spots!
Sapporo JR Station is huge and is connected with shopping malls and dining areas. Take the path going towards the Namboku Line and start walking to the Chikagai, an underground walkway that connects different “shopping towns” and connects Sapporo Station to Odori Station, ending at Susukino Station.
Between Sapporo Station and Odori Station, the Former Hokkaido Government Office (also called Red Brick Office), is just a few meters away. Picture-worthy all year round, this American baroque architectural building now serves as a tourist spot that displays information and exhibits Hokkaido history.
There’s a pond in the surrounding area and the decorations at the front of the building vary depending on the season. You can dine and have a view of the building in some restaurants in Akarenga Terrace. Akarenga Terrace also has an observation deck on the fifth floor where you can have a bird’s eye view of Old Hokkaido Government Building.
Walk to Kita 2 Jo Nishi (walking past Sapporo Grand Hotel), and you’ll easily spot this wooden, church-like structure. It is considered the symbol of Sapporo and has a long, rich history. The building not only serves as the city’s clock tower but also houses the history of Hokkaido University and how the city of Sapporo developed. There is an admission fee of 200 yen for adults to enter the building.
Probably the most famous park in Sapporo, Odori Park is the main event spot for the annual Snow Festival. The name itself, Odori (大道), means big and way, and that’s exactly what it is, a walkway park that can be seen in full view at the top of Sapporo TV Tower.
Aside from the Snow Festival, the park is also the venue for many other festivals throughout the year like Lilac Festival in spring, Yosakoi Soran Festival in the summer, Autumn festival in fall, and Christmas Illuminations in early winter. Summer in Sapporo is not as humid as the rest of Japan and Odori Park is a great place to stroll and relax.
Find the statue of Takuboku Ishikawa there and you’ll find his words engraved at the bottom: “Wrapped in the silence of an autumn evening, the aroma of grilling corn at the side of Odori Koen.” Decades later, that atmosphere still remains in Odori in spite of the noise and busyness that surrounds it now.
At the far end of Odori Park, you’ll see the Sapporo TV Tower that lights up at night and has a digital clock. The tower has an information center, stores, souvenir shops, and restaurants. In the observation deck, you will not only see the whole of Odori Park (which offers splendid views during the Snow Festival illumination), but you can also view Mount Okura and Mount Maruyama. The fee for the observation deck is 720 yen.
Just two blocks from Sapporo TV Tower lies the public market of Sapporo. If Tokyo has Tsukiji Market, Sapporo has Nijo Market, which is smaller compared to Tokyo but you’ll find a variety of fresh food nonetheless.
Mouthwatering fresh seafood like crabs, salmon eggs, sea urchin, and many different kinds of fish will welcome you in this public market. There are several restaurants and food stalls where you will find great deals for a seafood-bowl!
Labeled as the Red Light District of Sapporo, it is noticeable that the Susukino streets are livelier and busier. This place has a lot of karaoke houses and bars which are popular destinations of working people on their night out. Susukino also has special alleys where you can find delicious food like the famous Daruma Honten for Genghis Khan (grilled mutton) and the ramen alley.
Walk one kilometer further and you’ll find peace and quiet again in Nakajima Koen. It is a huge park that has a simple ski course during the winter, cherry blossoms in spring, fall foliage in autumn, and a nice stroll area during the summer. The Concert Hall Kitara and Hoheikan (a place for civic exchange) are found on the park premises.
There is also an astronomical observatory (Sapporo-shi Observatory), a shrine (Iyahiko Shrine), a museum (Hokkaido Museum of Literature) and a Japanese Garden. The number of things to do is endless here, so no wonder it is one of the local’s favorite spots for relaxation.
Go to Horohirabashi Station all the way to the direction of Toyohira River. In the summer, you can see the city’s Hanabi (summer festival) from here. In winter it is still possible to walk along the path that locals often take to walk their dogs. It also offers a great view of Mount Moiwa and the Toyohira River. For the rest of the year without the pile of snow, you can jog or stroll along the Toyohira River Banks.
If the weather is nice, even in winter, it’s perfect to take this route to explore Sapporo by foot. It is also possible to reach these places by using the Namboku subway line (fare ranges from 200-250 yen).
Subway stations for the places mentioned are (1-2) Sapporo Station, (3-5) Odori Station, (6) Susukino, (7) Nakajima Koen, and (8) Horohirabashi Station. Sapporo is also easily accessible by plane or bullet train from Tokyo. The airport is New Chitose Airport and from there you can ride the rapid train for 1,590 yen (reserved seat) or 1062 yen (free seating) to go to Sapporo city center.