The prefectural capital of Hokkaido, Sapporo is located in the north of Japanese islands. Sapporo is a famous place to visit during a sightseeing in Hokkaido but it is also a business base. Its population is approximately 1.95 million people and is the fourth largest city in Japan. There are multiple fascinating places to see in Sapporo as it has a good access from the New Chitose Airport as well. This article introduces useful information and some fascinating areas featuring recommended spots for the people who have never been here before.
What is Sapporo?
Hokkaido was originally called Ezo-chi. It was a land where the Ainu people (indigenous people in Ezo land) lived by hunting and collecting. It is reported that the origin of the place, Sapporo is “Sari・Polo Pech” or “Sappo・Pol・Pe” which means vast land or river in a language of Ainu.
What kind of city is Sapporo?
■Old Hokkaido Government Office Building
The Old Hokkaido Government Office Building is known as “Akarenga (red brick) Palace building.” It is a popular place to visit for people who have never been in Sapporo as it is only 5-minute walk from the Sapporo Station. The interior of the building is open to the general public as a museum that displays materials about the history of Hokkaido and its development to a major agricultural land in Japan.
■Sapporo City Clock Tower
Sapporo City Clock Tower is a historic monument designated as an important cultural property of the country. It is a tower clock that still operates as it was at the time of construction more than 130 years ago. It is one of Sapporo's classic sightseeing sites.
Various events are held annually in “Odori Park.” The park is 1.5 km in length. It is entertaining throughout the four seasons. Among all events, the Sapporo Snow Festival in winter is very famous.
■Sapporo TV Tower
The “Sapporo TV Tower” in the Odori Park has an observation floor located at 90.3 m above the ground. In the period of “Sapporo White Illumination” from the end of November to the beginning of January, you will enjoy viewing illuminations in addition to the lights of buildings and streets.
Sapporo is a Holy Land of Sake
Although Sapporo is a large city, it is suited for brewing alcohols. Ishikari River has one of the largest catchment areas in Japan, and one of the tributary rivers of Ishikari River is Toyohira River flowing in the city of Sapporo. Using this water, many popular brands of alcohol are manufactured in Sapporo.
“Nippon Seishu” is the oldest brewery in Hokkaido, which is located in the city of Sapporo, and it was founded in the fifth year of the Meiji era (1872). “Chitose Tsuru” that is made from “Ginpu,” a sake-brewing rice produced in Hokkaido and local water is one of the most familiar stocks in Hokkaido. Although “Chitose Tsuru” is tasteful by drinking it at either room temperature or hot, but in order to taste its freshness and taste, having it cold is the best.
“Kobayashi Brewery” is known for making distinctive lightly colored sake. In order to keep the umami of the rice, this brewery omits the usual filtration process by coals. The sake made in this brewery is characterized by the distinct Yamabuki color (goldish yellow) and powerful rice flavor. The major brands from this brewery are “Kita no Nishiki” and “Fuyu Hanabi.” Both of them have a fresh aftertaste and fruitiness. Having “Kita no Nishiki” in the room temperature and “Fuyu Hanabi! around 50 degrees Celsius is recommended.
“Takasago Brewery” makes alcohols while protecting its traditional methods. It uses melted snow in the mountain, Daisetsuzan Mountain located in the northernmost of Japan for the water. This brewery’s history begins from around the time when the development of Hokkaido began (15th year of the Meiji era, 1882). The brand representing this brewery is called “Kokushimuso.” Having it cold to taste the deepness of rice is recommended, and also, it is good to enjoy the smell by having it hot. It is compatible with a variety of dishes as well. This brand is very popular in Hokkaido. It does not usually circulate out of the prefecture as it is very rare.
Sake is characterized by being able to enjoy in various temperature ranges from 5 ℃ to 60 ℃. As being able to drink in the room temperature, the style of having it cold is called “Reishu” and the style of having it warm is called “Kanzake.” Both ways of having Sake creates a different taste. Let’s find your best brands and ways to drink！
How to Walk Around Sapporo
Sapporo’s entrance, “JR Sapporo Station” is adjacent to the subway and bus terminal, making it convenient to move to various places in the city. In addition, it is connected to the center of the city through the underground shopping mall. People can move comfortably on rainy or snowy days. Various transportation methods are developed, but subways and buses are most convenient for moving to the main sightseeing spots. Transfer discounts at selected stations are also prepared. If you are in the center of the city, you can walk or rent a bicycle to comfortably go around the city with only a few hills. It is also recommended to take a bus that covers major sightseeing spots efficiently.
1.Sapporo’s Shopping and Stores
■Tanukikoji Shopping Street
Tanukikoji Shopping Street is an arcade type shopping street where about 200 shops are open from the east to west for about 1 km. There are also many entrances to the underground passage leading from the subway. People can enjoy shopping without worrying about the weather throughout the year, even in snow.
■Sapporo Stellar Place
Sapporo Stellar Place is one of the largest shopping malls in Japan, holding over 160 stores. In an expansive hall, there is a number of artists' work arranged. This shopping mall is designed to be able to enjoy the atmosphere as well as shopping.
■Akarenga (red brick) Terrace
Akarenga Terrace is a commercial facility where all 27 stores are open in the building. In “Scenic Gallery” you can overlook the Akarenga Palace building. In “Atrium Terrace,” there is a resting area as well. It is a facility that can feel nature within the city.
■Sapporo City Clock Tower
The Sapporo City Clock Tower introduced earlier in the photograph was constructed in 1878 as a theatrical hall of Sapporo Agricultural College’s predecessor, Hokkaido University in the 11th year of the Meiji era (1878). It was used as a central auditorium to conduct training such as military training for the college students, physical education lessons, entrance ceremonies and graduation ceremonies.
■Hitsujigaoka Observatory Hill
Also on the observatory, there is a famous bronze statue of Mr. W. S. Clark who took office as Sapporo Agricultural College's first head teacher. You can see the grass-fed animals and the cityscape of Sapporo from there. There are days that you can see the Ishikari Plain located in distance.
Night view from here is a must-see. A classic sightseeing is to see Mt. Moiwa at the ropeway or from Asahiyama Mountain by car.
Susukino is in the downtown area of Sapporo, where approximately 5,000 stores mainly restaurants are open. There are many accommodation facilities, and it is also the center of transportation such as buses and subways.
Dining in Sapporo
Sushi in Sapporo is Here
■Kaiten (conveyor belt) Sushi “Triton Kita 8jo Kosei Store”
“Triton” is a sushi restaurant far beyond the level of ordinary conveyor belt sushi restaurants by the freshness and size of the fish. The freshness of the local fish is outstanding as the restaurant buys fish from the locals in their unique buying route. Especially the “live surf clam” is thick and has a sweet, and unique taste.
5 minutes by car from JR Sapporo Station.
Clean and spacious interior. It is popular in a wide range of age groups.
Hokkaido is a major fishery region. Within the area of Hokkaido, all of the sushi ingredients can be covered. Many people are astonished by how large the fish is on top of the rice in this restaurant.
“Triton Kita 8jo Kosei Store”
●Opens 7 days a week
■Japanese Food and Sushi “Nijo”
Located in the middle of the Nijo Market in Sapporo, “Japanese Food and Sushi Nijo” is an old-fashioned Japanese restaurant which is famous for its seafood. People can enjoy the fresh seafood and vegetables that were directly bought from markets and fishermen. For example, sushi, soft roe, assorted sashimi, and crabs are very fresh as they are directly bought from the fishermen by the restaurant. In this place, there is a large variety of Sake and Shochu (another type of sake, distilled and traditional), which some of them are hard to obtain as they don't usually circulate in the market.
13 assorted sushi with selected ingredients caught in Hokkaido.
There are counter seats as well as table seats, so it is easy to stop by alone.
“Japanese Food and Sushi Nijo”
●11:00-15:00（L.O. 14:30）, 17:00-22:00（L.O. 21:30）
■Rotating Sushi PASAR
“PASAR” is an ultra-famous sushi restaurant, recommended by very many locals. Its excellent sushi starts from 130 yen per a couple of pieces. This place also offers some very unique sushi as well, such as raw Atka mackerel, a part of abdomen of crabs, and more. Also, Hokkaido is the unique place to be able to enjoy a light and sweet raw Atka mackerel by sashimi.
It is approximately 5 minutes on foot from Hosui-Susukino Station on subway Toho Line. Even on weekdays, it is crowded with local office workers and tourists.
It is a popular restaurant in which there are only counter seats. We recommend “Banshaku set (night drinking set menu)” with two cups of alcohols (beer, local sake, or shochu), sashimi, and rolled sushi.
Every single day, from where it is caught, fresh fish and clams from Hokkaido are sent to this restaurant. Sushi, as well as seafood rice bowl and side menu, are popular.
“Rotating Sushi PASAR”
●No scheduled holidays *Possible earlier closings due to sold-outs
Ramen in Sapporo
A major local gourmet in Sapporo is “ramen.” Sapporo is known as a birthplace of ramen and the place where the name “ramen” was born.
■Ramen Sapporo Ichiryu-an
Ichiryu-an is a popular ramen restaurant which was once on Michelin Guide. 90% of the ingredients in the restaurant is made in Hokkaido. Using the long-aged fermented rice miso, “Genki no deru Miso Ramen (energizing miso ramen)” is one of the most popular ramens in this restaurant. There is a menu corresponding to 4 languages, and it is popular also for foreign travelers.
It is just 3 minutes on foot from JR Sapporo Station, located in Hokuren bldg., basement floor.
All three types of noodles, thick, medium crimp, and straight noodles are made using 100% Hokkaido made wheat.
“Genki no deru Miso Ramen DX.” This restaurant has the policy to create ramen by ingredients from Hokkaido. With the special miso, this place makes a clear broth that is based with pork bone, chicken, vegetables, and seaweed. You can enjoy the deep richness of long-boiled broth.
“Handmade Gyoza” made with Hidaka pork's pigs that fed whey, is a very popular dish and is limited only from 5 pm. All of the ingredients are made in Hokkaido and it is made from scratch.
“Ramen Sapporo Ichiryu-an”
●Closed on Sundays
■Ebi (shrimp) Soba Ichigen Head Store
For the shrimp lovers, Ichigen is a must-go. Shrimp soup is made every single day by thoroughly simmering a large number of heads of sweet shrimps for a long time. With the original recipe of frying “shrimp oil,” backfat and soup in a Chinese pot, “Ebi Soba” is made with a rich taste of umami.
There are three flavors of soups: miso, salt, and soy sauce. Also, you can choose the types of soup. It can be “Sonomama,” which puts strength on keeping the flavor of the shrimp as is without disturbing by other ingredients. Also, there is “Hodohodo,” which compared to “Sonomama,” it has increased the ratio of the pork-based soup. The last type is “Ajiwai,” which increased the pork-based soup in order to finish with the umami and richness of the taste.
The store gives a neat and calm impression, and it is crowded with locals and tourists every day.
Two kinds of noodles are available in this restaurant. Extraordinarily thick noodles are cooked so that the sweet shrimp flavor of the soup tangles into it. The thin noodle is custom made to strengthen the taste of the soup. Powder on top of the soup is made by grilling the head of the sweet shrimp used to take the broth and it is put on just before serving. The powder is a unique presentation only in Ichigen which enhances the tasty smell of shrimp.
“Ebi Soba Ichigen Head Store”
●11:00 - 3:00am next day (Closes as the soup depletes)
●Closed on Wednesdays
■Sumire Sapporo Head Store
Founded in 1964, Sumire is a famous restaurant of Sapporo Ramen. Speaking of Miso Ramen, there are many Japanese who imagine this restaurant. It is believed that the origin of the Sapporo Ramen is how people tried to keep the ramen hot until people finish eating in the cold land of Hokkaido. Then, it became a tradition to put a layer of oil on the soup of ramen so that it keeps the soup hot and prevent evaporation. Now, this layer of lard became a key characteristic of Sapporo ramen.
In October 2017, “Sumire Sapporo Main Store” renovated it building to be more modern. It is only about 10 minutes on foot from Nakanoshima Station of Subway Nanboku Line.
Regardless of the season, the restaurant is kept for the best temperature for eating ramen.
Thanks to the thick layer of lard, it is one of the features that you can enjoy hot soup until the end. Noodle in the ramen is medium thick and slightly crinkled. There are grounded meat, bean sprouts, onions and menma as the toppings.
“Sumire Sapporo Head Store”
●11:00-15:00, 16:00-21:00（November～March: until 20:00） *No afternoon-break for Saturdays and Sundays
●Opens 7 days a week
Drink Beers Here in Sapporo
■Sapporo Beer Garden
Representing Hokkaido, Sapporo Beer Garden is where you can enjoy draft beer directly from the factory and Genghis Khan (a type of barbeque) with fresh lamb. Popular beer brand called “Sapporo Classic” uses barley made by cooperative agreement, meaning that barley is made interactively between the farmer and the company. This draft beer is only made in Hokkaido with Eniwa infiltration water.
Made in the first year of Taisho era (1913), there is an enormous beer tank called Kessel in “Kessel Hall.” As well as Genghis Khan, sushi and crabs are available in all you can eat style in “Trommel Hall.” Also, with the atmosphere made by the red brick used in the exterior of the building, there is a “Poplar Hall,” which its interior has been refurbished to be more modern.
In addition to Genghis Khan which has excellent compatibility with draft beer, several types of crabs and sushi are served in all you can eat style. Also, the draft beer is directly brought from the Sapporo beer factory. This restaurant utilizes no smoke roaster, so there is no need to worry about the smell of the smoke or smoke itself while eating.
The special sauce using the flavor of fresh apple and lemon are best to taste the umami of the vegetables and lamb.
“Sapporo Beer Garden”
●Closed on New Year holiday
■Tsuki to Taiyo (moon and sun) Brewing
Moon and Sun Brewing is a beer bar which people enjoy various craft beers. The best feature is that there is no classic or the most popular beer in this place. Ten craft beers are prepared daily, including homemade beer. Every single time that the beer is being brewed in this brewery, different taste comes out. This place offers a beer that can be tasted only for once in a lifetime. As well as the homemade beer, this place offers a bunch of brands of craft beers gathered from all over the country.
It is a 3-minute walk from Hosui Susukino Station. There is a large brewery tank along the Sosei River and white Japanese style shop curtain as shown on the photo above.
A bright interior with the warmth of wood of the restaurant is completely non-smoking and recommended for women as well. Background music is Blues and people enjoy the beer and food relaxingly.
The recommended meal here is made in Hokkaido sparerib stewed by the craft beer.
“Moon and Sun Brewing”
●Monday - Saturday: 17:30-24:00 (L.O. meals 23:00, drinks 23:30)、Sundays and National Holidays: 17:30-23:00 (L.O. meals 22:00, drinks 22:30) *Opens at 15:00 for Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays during July to September
●No Scheduled holidays
“The Craft” is located only one minute walk from Subway Susukino Station. It is known and popular as one of the biggest beer bars in Hokkaido. Out of 33 craft beers in the store, “3 TASTING SET” is popular as people can compare three kinds of beers. You can find the taste of your choice out of those 33 types of craft beer.
It is an antique brick building like New York, which accommodates up to 50 people.
The barreled craft beer that comes out of 33 taps lined up on the wall is majestic! With the selected craft beers on the center, there are 33 types of draft beers which is the largest numbers of draft beers to be offered at one store alone. Also, craft beers are shipped and imported from breweries in Japan and all over the world and are offered at low prices.
The popular 5cm thick “Chicago Pizza” which is full of ingredients such as cheese and sauce looks just like a hall cake.
●Monday- Thursday: 17:00 - 2:00 am next day, Fridays, Saturdays and day before National Holidays: 17:00 - 3:00am next day, Sundays and National Holidays: 17:00 - 1:00am next day
●Opens 7 days a week
4. Staying in Sapporo (hotel)
■JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo
A landmark hotel located in the “JR Tower” is formed by complex facilities such as four shopping malls, amusement attractions, offices and so on. It connects directly to Sapporo Station and is an outstanding location as a base for business and sightseeing.
It is located on the high floors of JR Tower.
The picture above is an executive twin room (30 m²) with sophisticated interior. All rooms have free Wi-Fi connection.
A sky restaurant “Tancho” (35th floor) is where you can enjoy Japanese cuisine which makes a use of local ingredients that the chef carefully selected.
“JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo”
●5 Nishi2, Kita 5, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
■Sapporo Grand Hotel
In 1934, Sapporo Grand Hotel was born as “Hokkaido's first authentic Western style hotel.” Since then, the hotel keeps pursuing comfort and functionality while keeping tradition and formality. This hotel is known as a hotel with delicious breakfast. There are three types of meals are prepared. There are three breakfast venues that you can enjoy in various styles, such as Western buffet, Japanese or vegetarian set menus, and buffet-style grill.
It is directly connected in the underground to Sapporo Station and Odori Station. The path between the hotel and stations is very convenient. It is an outstanding location as a base for business, leisure and sightseeing.
“Comfort Deluxe Twin” that two sinks are equipped is best suited for female or group female traveler. All rooms have free Wi-Fi connection.
“Garden Dining Waraku” is a place where you can enjoy elegant meals while looking at the beautiful Japanese garden.
“Sapporo Grand Hotel”
●North 1, West 4, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
■La’gent Stay Sapporo Odori
The hotel is confident for its commitment of interior incorporating the traditional taste of Japan and Japanese cultures. Guest rooms along the concept of warmth and calmness are great for healing the tiredness of your journey.
A convenient location as a sightseeing base and about 5-minute walk from Subway Odori Station.
All of the rooms are equipped with shower and toilet (hot water washing toilet). The guest rooms are spacious with over 18 square meters in area. The picture is superior double room.
The concept of this place is “Wakon Yosai” meaning “learning the west while keeping the Japanese spirit.” In “Northern Kitchen,” you can enjoy a fine cuisine which can only be tasted here made by craftsmen who are very knowledgeable about food in Hokkaido.
This natural hot spring utilizes an exchange system of men and women by time. The water is weakly alkaline which is friendly to the skin. Its natural spring is called “beautiful skin water.” *Opening Hours: 1) 15:00- 1am, 2) 6:00-9:30 (Men and women time are exchanged between 1 and 2)
“La’gent Stay Sapporo Odori”
●5-26-5, Minami 2 jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
5.Attractions in Sapporo
The recommendation is an attraction that can feel the nature and the season, such as watching night scenery, going to scenic spots with beautiful sky, cycling by rented bikes, tours on observation decks and visiting zoos. There are many seasonal events such as “Sapporo Snow Festival” in winter as well.
In order to see the rich nature and autumn leaves, going to Hokkaido University is recommended. There are lots of sightseeing spots in the university such as ginkgo trees, and poplar trees. There are also museums that can be visited and school meals can be bought by visitors. The museum is the oldest of all Japanese museums in Japan, which was built in 1882, and it is also designated as a National Important Cultural Property.
In addition, Sapporo outskirts are in rich in hot springs. Jozankei Onsen that is about 50 minutes from the city is called “Okuzashiki of Sapporo.” About 2.6 million people visit this hot spring every year. A day trip to hot spring and lunch is also enjoyable. It is definitely a popular place to visit for hot spring lovers.
How to Get to Sapporo
Train: It is 37 minutes to Sapporo Station by Kaisoku (express) Airport from New Chitose Airport.
Bus: It takes about 70 to 80 minutes from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo Station.
Rental cars: Approximately about 60km by New Chitose Airport Highway. It takes about 1 hour. We recommend booking the renting cars before departure.
Summary of Sapporo
Sapporo where everything essential for sightseeing, such as gourmet, historical buildings, nature, etc. are there, you can feel the coexistence of the city and nature. Visiting from the airport is convenient, and shopping malls and pastures are compactly concentrated which are rare in Japan. In your next trip to Japan, why don’t you extend your journey to Hokkaido, where all four seasons are enjoyable.
*The above information was last updated August 20, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
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