Sapporo, Japan: What to do in the city?

The 10 most popular tourist attractions in Sapporo

The largest city on Japan’s northernmost island in Hokkaido, Sapporo offers many reasons to visit. Although traveling to this largely hilly region only became fashionable after it hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, the city more than makes up for it now with events such as the famous Sapporo Snow Festival , one of Japan’s largest winter events, attracting over two million visitors each winter (year-round visitors now exceed 14 million). The city also regularly hosts important international sporting events as well as major political events such as the G8 summits. Sapporo also plays an important role in the cultural destination and is home to some of Japan’s most famous culinary specialties, theater and music events, as well as museums and beautiful parks worth visiting, including on your Japanese itinerary.

See also: Where to stay in Sapporo

1 Odori Avenue Park.

In downtown Sapporo, Odori Avenue Park is an oasis of green that cuts through the city. It stands in stark contrast to the high rises and offices around it and serves as the best place to start exploring this dynamic destination. Unlike many wide avenues typical of European cities such as Paris, this delightfully wide mile-and-a-half park with open space and gardens, fountains and art sculptures connects many of the city’s most interesting attractions, such as the Sapporo Television Tower and various museums and galleries, as well as shopping and entertainment districts. It also serves as an important venue for cultural events, including the Salamanca Lilac Festival in the spring and the always popular Sapporo Snow Festival , Odori Avenue Park is close to the underground shopping district and the Sapporo business district.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Sapporo

2 Hokkaido Temple

Built in 1871, Hokkaido Shrine (Hokkaidu Shingu) is one of the most important (and visited) Shinto religious sites in the country. Next to Maruyama Park , the temple became even more important after it was dedicated to the soul of many revered Meiji Emperors in 1964. The site is massive, and in addition to the huge temple building, it consists of a large garden filled with cherry blossoms, a great draw when in bloom every spring. Other favorite times to visit are New Year’s Eve, when there are special celebrations and festivities, or during the annual Sapporo Festival each June, when long parades of traditionally dressed revellers visit the Hokkaido Shrine and pay homage to their ancestors and the spirits of the country’s most revered religious leaders.

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Address: 474 Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido

3 Moyva Mountain and aerial ropeway

Moiwa Mountain and the Wasin Waeosri aerial tramway / photo modified

The elevation above Sapporo rises to a height of 531 meters. Mount Moiwa (Moiwa Yama) is the most visited of the many hills surrounding the city, mainly because of the ease with which one can reach the top. While a popular destination for hikers, by far the most frequently used option is to take the aerial streetcar, the Moiwa cable car, most of the way before transferring to the cable car, which takes only a few minutes to reach the top station of the summit. Not only can you get a great view of the city (day or night) from the station’s observation deck here, you can also stay in your on-site restaurant or enjoy a show at your planetarium. Come winter, Mount Moiwa Ski Resort attracts winter sports enthusiasts far and wide with many beautiful slopes easily accessible from downtown Sapporo. Another point of interest is Hitsuji-ga-Oke (sheep hill), located southeast of Sapporo and also offers a great view of the city.

Official website: www.sapporo-dc.co.jp/eng/moiwa/

4 Yozankei Onsen Hot Spring

Yosankei Onsen Hot Spring

Less than an hour from Sapporo is the spectacular Jozankei Onsen Hot Springs, a tour worth the time, especially if it can be combined with a stop at one of the many fine spa hotels. The mineral waters of these famous hot springs, tucked away in a picturesque valley with the addition of mountains to these famous hot springs, have attracted many visitors from Sapporo and elsewhere (up to two and a half million a year) since 1866, all cured by the healing and restorative properties of its sodium chloride-rich waters. Everyone knows that Jozankei Onsen has 56 hot springs that gush out an estimated 8,600 liters of water per minute at 60 to 80° C, most of which are now easily accessible thanks to the many spas and resorts that have sprung up here. Subsequently, be sure to explore the many scenic hiking trails in the area, taking in such beauty spots as Shiraito-no-taki Waterfall , Nishikibashi Bridge, and Futami-Iwa Rock .

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Address: Minami Ward, Sapporo, 061-2302

5 Maruyama Ken Park.

On the west side of Sapporo is Maruyama Ken Park, a multipurpose natural area popular with visitors year-round. In spring, the 226-meter-high hill brings stunningly beautiful flowers of more than 1,700 wild cherry trees to life, and in fall it is a succession of many maples to show how their leaves turn into a cavalcade of red and gold (it is also popular with bird watchers). Winter is not without its beauty, either, when heavy snowfalls carpet the park, turning it into a playground for winter sports enthusiasts. At this time of year the focus here is the nearby Okurayama Ski Crossing, built for the 1972 Winter Olympics and still regularly hosting ski competitions, as well as the Ōkurayama Crystal House , an interesting museum about winter sports. The park also has a small zoo, Maruyama Zoo , with many local and exotic animals.

6 Shikotsu Thia National Park

Shikotsu Tia National Park

Shikotsu-Tya National Park near Sapporo contains in three separate parts a wide variety of beautiful volcanic landscapes as well as many crater lakes and hot springs. The largest section of the National Park is at the very gates of Sapporo, making it the perfect hour-long hike just an hour’s bus ride away. The highlight is the 1,893-meter-high Yotei , an extinct volcano overlooking the town of Kutchan, which serves as a good base for those who want to make the four-hour ascent of the three summit craters known as the Father, Mother, and Little Cauldrons. Also worth seeing are the Nakayama Pass and crystal-clear Toya Lake , a circular lake so warm it can’t freeze even in the harshest winters (the lake also boasts a popular resort, Toyako-Onsen). Another Seva-Shinzan , still an active volcano that only appeared in 1945.

7 Moerenuma Park.

In the suburb of Higashi-ku in Sapporo, the open spaces and sculptures of Moerenuma Park (Moerenuma Kōen) make for an interesting diversion from the hustle and bustle of downtown. This inspiring municipal park, opened in 2005 and 17 years old, occupies a vast area of huge and small sculptures, many of which also double as playground equipment large enough (and perhaps even intended) for adult visitors, as well as the Cherry Tree Forest with its 3,000 specimens that provide an incredible palette of color each spring. The most notable landmark is the huge glass pyramid known locally as the Hidamari and the placement of an art gallery with a scale model of the park, workshops, a restaurant and store. Other highlights include the large stainless steel triangle known as the Tetra Mound and, dominating the site, the massive 62-meter high Mt. More with its views of Sapporo. Hot tip: Try to plan your visit to coincide with one of the park’s regular music or theater events.

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8 Sapporo Television Tower

Sapporo Television Tower

One of the city’s most visited landmarks, built in 1957, the 147-meter-high Sapporo Television Tower (Sapporo Terebi-t). Easily accessible from Odori Avenue Park , the tower offers great views of Sapporo from the observation deck as well as from the restaurant. In addition to on-site shopping, the tower also has an interesting ground-floor exhibit relating to the history of the structure, as well as access to Odori Avenue Park and a large underground shopping area. The highlight of the tower’s exterior is a large digital clock installed in 1961.

9 Former Hokkaido Government Office

Former Hokkaido Government Office

One of Sapporo’s most obvious Western influences, the magnificent former Hokkaido government office was built in 1873 to house the offices of the predecessor government that once oversaw the island’s affairs. Later rebuilt by a devastating fire, it now offers exhibition space and serves as the city’s tourist center, and both its interior décor and its bright red brick exterior are worth a visit. The impressively sized structure includes some two and a half million locally sourced bricks and contains a collection of important paintings and other works of art, as well as furniture and displays important to the history of the region. Subsequently, be sure to visit the magnificent gardens and pond, especially when they are used as a venue for musical and theatrical events.

Address: 6 Chome Kita 3 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture 060-0003

10 Sapporo Clock Tower

Sapporo Clock Tower

Another of Sapporo’s surviving western structures is the city’s famous Clock Tower (Sapporo Tokeidai). Constructed of wood and very reminiscent of the type of colonial-style building typical of many small towns in the United States (a fact partly due to the Americans involved in planning the city), the Clock Tower is a must on any visit to Sapporo , In addition to those that are still operational and open 24 hours, other highlights include an interesting museum that details the history of the region with a special focus on farming. The facility is also frequently used for music and theater productions, as well as community events and seminars.

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Address: 2-1-1 Kita 1 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture 060-0001

Where to stay for sightseeing in Sapporo

We recommend these highly rated hotels in Sapporo close to the best city attractions:

    JR Tower Nikko Sapporo: luxury high-rise, great location, professional service, organic coffee, spa with indoor hot tub and sauna.

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