Sapporo is often sadly overlooked as a tourist destination by many international travellers. At first glance, it may seem quite far away and perhaps even isolated from the rest of Japan's popular attractions. But what if I told you it only takes two hours to fly from Osaka to Sapporo?
I recently took a trip to Sapporo and had an absolutely amazing time. There were several things to do in the city, plus there was an endless amount of day trips that were easily accessible from Sapporo. Even after five days in Hokkaido's capital, I still hadn't checked everything off my list of things to do. Sapporo is also a great place for a foodie adventure, and by far one of my favourite cities for food.
Now, let's take a look at some of my most memorable experiences in Sapporo!
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Hokkaido University Botanic Garden
Sapporo TV Tower
This was a wild ride to say the least. Right off the bat I'm going to warn anybody who's reading this that the elevator to get to the observatory floor has glass sides and is completely see-through. If you're afraid of heights, give this one a miss and instead visit the JR Observatory Tower 38, which I mention later in this post.
The Sapporo TV Tower was something I either saw or walked past several times a day while visiting Sapporo, and is a true Sapporo icon. I decided I simply had to go to the top. As I mentioned above, the elevator ride was a rather harrowing experience, but the view from the top and out over Odori Park was quite lovely when I looked back at my quick snaps later. While the height of the tower is 147m, the observation deck sits at a height of 90m. It's high enough to get a nice view out over Sapporo city.
General admission for adults on the day I visited was 1000 yen.
Don't miss the gift shop on the 3rd floor - it's a good place to stock up on souvenirs for those back home. They sell some interesting items including BBQ lamb flavored caramel sold only in Hokkaido!
View of Sapporo TV Tower from Odori Park, and views from the observation deck.
Click on the images to expand.
Name in Japanese: さっぽろテレビ塔
Address in English: 1 Chome Odorinishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0042
Address in Japanese: 〒060-0042 北海道札幌市中央区大通西１丁目
Sapporo Beer Museum
No trip to Sapporo would be complete without visiting the Sapporo Beer Museum!
The free self-guided tour shows the history of Sapporo Beer in Japan starting in 1869. You can browse old advertising posters, bottles and logo designs while learning about the history of Sapporo beer.
This area isn't large, and will probably only take you a maximum of 30 minutes to slowly wander through the displays, but it is quite interesting to see the old advertising posters on display in comparison to what we see today.
At the end of the self-guided tour sit down and enjoy a beer at Star Hall. I recommend the three variety comparison tasting set which included Sapporo Draft Beer Black Label, Sapporo Classic Hokkaido Special Edition, and Kaitakushi Beer Pilsner for 800 yen. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available. From there, head on over to the gift shop and buy something to commemorate your trip to Sapporo.
In-depth tours are available at the Sapporo Beer Museum, but must be pre-booked. There is also a beer garden on site which specialises in 'Genghis Khan' (BBQ lamb - Sapporo's speciality).
Name in Japanese: サッポロビール博物館
Address in English: 9 Chome-1-1 Kita 7 Johigashi, Higashi Ward, Hokkaido 065-8633
Address in Japanese: 〒065-8633 北海道東区北７条東９丁目１−1
I mentioned Nijo Market briefly in the blog entry about Things to eat in Sapporo, but I thought I should mention it again quickly here.
Nijo Market is a great place to buy fresh seafood, such as crabs and other in-season seafood, but don't expect a huge market. I probably covered the whole market in about 10 minutes, so don't plan on spending a whole morning here like you would at larger Japanese seafood markets.
I do suggest visiting for a look around, checking out prices, and stopping for a sit down meal for either breakfast or lunch. It's well-located and easy to get to, so I suggest starting your day here while the fish is as fresh as can be. The seafood rice bowl (kaisendon) in the photo below is from Donburi Chaya inside Nijo Market.
Name in Japanese: 二条市場
Address in English: 1 Chome Minami 3 Johigashi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0052
Address in Japanese: 〒060-0052 北海道札幌市中央区南３条東１丁目
Sapporo Clock Tower
The Clock Tower has long been considered a symbol of Sapporo. It was originally constructed in 1878 as part Sapporo Agricultural College (now known as Hokkaido University), with the clock produced by E. Howard & Co. in the United States being installed into the turret in 1881.
The clock itself is powered by gravity. On the second floor of the Sapporo Clock Tower you can see an informative display that shows the mechanism behind the running of the clock. The clock you see today has been running on the same mechanism for over 100 years.
There is much history to be covered in relation to the Sapporo Clock Tower. You can find displays with some English explanations about it's long history on both floors of the building, plus an area to sit and take it all in on the second floor. Entry for one adult currently costs 200 yen.
Name in Japanese: 札幌市時計台
Address in English: 2 Chome Kita 1 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0001
Address in Japanese: 〒060-0001 北海道札幌市中央区北１条西２丁目
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JR Tower Observatory T38
I randomly came across the JR Tower Observatory in a tourist brochure that I picked up, so here's your reminder to do the same! I know most people don't bother with paper brochures or maps anymore, but I find them to be an invaluable resource when travelling.
The JR Tower Observatory is located close to Sapporo station, and is super easy to get to. Although the observatory itself is not that high (160m), it truly offers an amazing view out over Sapporo during day and night. You can find a small cafe/bar and a gift shop on the observatory floor.
A ticket for adult entry was 740 yen on the day of my visit, which I found extremely reasonable. Entry is via the elevator on the 6th floor of Stellar Place.
I recommend the T38 over the Sapporo TV Tower to anyone afraid of heights (no see-through elevator involved!)
Name in Japanese: JRタワー展望室タワー・スリーエイト
Address in English: 〒060-0005 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Kita 5 Jonishi, 2 Chome−5−番地 受付：JRタワーイースト6Ｆ（札幌ステラプレイス イースト6Ｆ JRタワ 38F
Address in Japanese: 〒060-0005 北海道札幌市中央区北５条西２丁目5−番地 受付：JRタワーイースト6Ｆ（札幌ステラプレイス イースト6Ｆ JRタワ 38F
Nikka Whiskey Intersection
This famous sign is located in the Susukino area, which is home of Sapporo's night life. This intersection is located right outside Susukino station exits 3, 4 and 5, and if you're nearby it's impossible to miss! The best photo spot for this is to stand across the road from the sign, or maybe to even snap a quick photo (safely!) from the tram.
You likely only need a few minutes to appreciate the signs, so make it a quick stop on the way to dinner or drinks, or an end of night activity.
There is no official name or address on Google Maps for these signs, but if you go to the address below (it's for a Lawson convenience store) and look up, it should be there!
Address in English: 3 Chome-3-3 Minami 4 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0804
Address in Japanese: 〒064-0804 北海道札幌市中央区南４条西３丁目3-3
Looking for more Sapporo content?
A Foodie's Guide: Where to Eat & Drink in Sapporo | Hokkaido, Japan
This long but narrow park in Sapporo is one you can't miss. You'll likely stumble across it several times a day while you're out exploring, or at least, I did!
The park is host to numerous events throughout the year and is a popular place for locals to hang out. The lovely garden beds in Odori Park are maintained by corporate and public volunteers and deserve a proper look - some of them have some real character!
Odori Park has no real address, as it spans the length of several city blocks. I'll give you the location for the Odori Park fountain below, just in case you need help finding your way.
Name in Japanese: 大通公園
Address in English: 3 Chome Odorinishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0042
Address in Japanese: 〒060-0042 北海道札幌市中央区大通西３丁目
Hokkaido University Botanic Garden
The Hokkaido University Botanic Garden sits in a convenient location, around 10 minutes walk from Sapporo station.
The garden was designed by Dr. Kingo Miyabe and was open to the public in 1886. For many years this garden has played an important role in the study of botany for many students.
Unfortunately the Northern Peoples Museum which displays artifacts from the indigenous tribes of Hokkaido was closed on the day of my visit, but I was still able to enjoy the fascinating Museum and National Treasures Museum further into the park.
The Museum and National Treasures Museum is Hokkaido's oldest (built in 1882), and has some very interesting displays. There are dozens of taxidermy animal on display, in addition to old fishing nets and arrow heads from historical times.
I found the taxidermy animals really interesting, although I can't help but think this display needs a slightly bigger space for visitors to be able to see the specimens properly.
I enjoyed wandering around the peaceful grounds for an hour or so before heading to the airport. The entry was about 730 yen for an adult ticket, but the grounds are very well maintained, and the icing on the cake was the tiny squirrel I saw while wandering the gardens!
The Hokkaido University Botanic Garden is definitely a must-visit for plant lovers.
Name in Japanese: 北海道大学 植物園
Address in English: 〒060-0003 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, 北３条西８丁目
Address in Japanese: 〒060-0003 北海道札幌市中央区 北３条西８丁目
Before you go...
I hope you enjoyed exploring Sapporo with me. It’s truly a wonderful city with tons of great food and some interesting things to see. Just a word of warning - Sapporo is blanketed in snow for the majority of the winter season, meaning it gets COLD! Be sure to check the weather before planning a trip, as the temperature in Hokkaido is often quite different to the central and southern areas of Japan. In fact, thanks to the amazing snow, Hokkaido is actually a popular destination for snow lovers under the age of 30 staying in Japan on a working holiday visa.
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Recommendations for booking accommodation, day trip tours and travel related needs.
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