Explore Sapporo, Japan
Explore Sapporo the capital and largest city of the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan.
One of Japan’s newest cities, Sapporo’s population has grown from seven in 1857 to nearly 2 million today. Being a new city, especially by Japanese standards, means it has little in the way of traditional architecture and the like of cities such as Kyoto. But what it lacks in “Japanese-ness” it makes up for with its lovely open, tree-filled boulevards to enjoy in summer and excellent snow and facilities in the long winter.
Sapporo has humid continental climate with wide temperature variations between summer and winter. Winters are cold, influenced by the Siberian Anticyclone, with an average temperaturebeing -3.6°C. Sapporo receives huge amounts of snow during wintertime, this being given to the frozen winds originating in Siberia, which gather up moisture from the Sea of Japan. It is, in fact, the second snowiest city of its size in the world, with the average year-round snowfall being 597cm.
Summers are warm and humid, with the average temperature 22.3°C. The East Asian Monsoon usually arrives in early August, dropping moderate to low amounts of precipitation, and ends in early October. Inarguably the best season to visit the city, and Hokkaido, in general is spring or autumn. The cherry blossom usually occurs around end of April to mid-May.
Getting to Sapporo by train is time-consuming and expensive. Purchasing a JR pass is economical, if you’re coming from Tokyo or anywhere in the south. Within Hokkaido, trains connect Sapporo to most major cities, including Hakodate, Otaru and Asahikawa.
For those living in Japan who have an omiyage (souvenir) obligation to fill in your Japanese office when you return from your Hokkaido holiday, the best omiyage to buy in Sapporo is the ubiquitous Shiroi Koibito (“White Lovers”). It is a chocolate slice sandwiched in two wafers of sweet biscuit, individually wrapped and available boxed in a range of different quantities — tasty enough, but rather bland, and few Westerners would associate the taste with Japan. It’s available in every souvenir store in the city, and also most souvenir stores around the island.
Being a wintery kind of place for a good part of each year, Sapporo also has many stores selling all manner of snow goods. At the beginning and end of each season, many good deals on the previous year’s gear can be found, often at discounts of up to 60% off, sometimes more! Also, there are several sports recycle stores in the city and suburbs where good deals on barely-used gear can be found, thanks to the Japanese fondness for having new gear every season. Ask Tourist Information to help you locate sports recycle and snow-goods store
The drink of choice when in Sapporo is obviously Sapporo Beer, and a good option for this is the Beer Museum. Susukino, to the south of the center, is one of Japan’s largest nightlife (and red-light) districts, originally created to keep laborers in Hokkaido. It has a somewhat unsavory reputation due to heavy yakuza involvement in the business, but is generally safe for travelers not actively looking for trouble. Get there on the subway Namboku line, Susukino station.
Official tourism websites of Sapporo
For more information please visit the official government website: