SapporoCopyright: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com
SapporoWith its rich natural landscape, stunning scenery, and distinctive seasons, Sapporo would satisfy the explorer in any one of us. The capital of Hokkaidō, the most northern and second-largest island of Japan, was established in 1868; its vast open wilderness backed by magnificent mountains was highly appealing to the early settlers back then, just as much as to any visitor today.
The CityIt would be hard to loose yourself in modern Sapporo, as it is structured by an American style grid system, with streets named and numbered according to the points of the compass. Odori Park, Sapporo's “Central Park”, runs through the centre of the city, dividing the North from the South. You will find that art is heavily present in this comparatively modern city. The northern side houses the university and its student “hang-outs”, as well as several traditional ryokan inns. To the south lies the shopping district with department stores and restaurants. You'll find Susukino with wall-to-wall entertainment here, locals and visitors alike congregating here to enjoy the variety of bars, restaurants and clubs.
Do & See
One of the last areas of Japan to be colonised, it once was the domain of the “Ainu", an indigenous tribe with a distinct culture, whose history is on display in one of the city’s museums today. Adorned by parks and forests, complete with wildlife, it is a colourful, progressive, and energetic city that attracts the adventurous traveller. The legacy of Sapporo's vivid past is perceivable through various historical buildings. Historic landmarks include the former Hokkaidō government office building, the Sapporo Clock Tower, the Hokkaidō Shrine and the Sapporo TV Tower. Having hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics and as venue for the Sapporo Snow Festival, the city is also famous for winter sports. However, food and arts lovers will enjoy themselves here as well. Sapporo Brewery and Shiroi Koibito Park, the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, and Sapporo Artpark are popular sights, too.
Sapporo's proximity to the sea and its open plains provide the city with an abundance of fresh seafood, vegetables, and dairy products. The Susukino district, brimming over with restaurants, is alive with flavour. Here you will find fine examples of local delicacies, including ramen, sushi, crab, Uni (sea urchin), and Genghis Khan (lamb barbecue).
Bars & Nightlife
For bars, head for Susukino: it is safe, well-lit, and bright with neon lights. Being the famous beer capital of Japan, Sapporo is never short of a pint; be sure to visit a traditional pub known locally as izakaya. South of Odori Park is Susukino, the hub for entertainment. This is an area dense with bars, hostess bars, and nightclubs.
Sapporo provides a great number of stores, offering everything from fashion boutiques with well-known Western brands to traditional cotton or silk kimonos. Not only the city offers a number of large underground malls such as the popular Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcade, but also department stores like Parco with ten floors of shopping—and don't forget the small local shops selling souvenirs. Other popular products in Hokkaido besides kimonos are wood carvings, produced often by the Ainus, available in the boutiques of Sapporo as well as in the gift shops of hotels and museums.