2019 Travel Guide to Sapporo: The Capital City of Hokkaido, Japan
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Sapporo, the capital city of mountainous Hokkaido, is the fifth largest city in Japan. Sapporo is famous for three things: beer, ramen, and snow. The Sapporo Beer is one of the oldest brands in Japan: there’s even the Sapporo Beer Museum, which is a museum dedicated to Sapporo’s finest produce—the beer.
Ramen shops in the city also abound, most of which are clustered in central Sapporo and are just a short walk away from each other.
Finally, Sapporo is known for its very cold winters, and snow that actually pile up. This is why it hosts several festivals like the Sapporo Snow Festival or Yuki Matsuri every February, the coldest month of the year.
Regardless of the season, however, or whether or not you’re up for a mug of frothy beer and some warm ramen, there are many more things to do here in the fifth largest city in Japan.
How to get there from Manila, Philippines
Philippine Airlines or PAL is one carrier that offers flights from Manila to Sapporo. The carrier stops over at Tokyo International Airport or Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) before proceeding to New Chitose Airport (CTS), which is just south of mainland Sapporo.
From New Chitose Airport, you can get to central Sapporo by riding buses. Bus fares cost around ¥1,030 (US$ 9, Php 454) and take 70 minutes ride. Most of these buses also stop at major hotels. Another alternative mode of transportation are the rapid airport trains. These are a bit costlier, with fares at ¥1,070 (US$ 9.45, Php 471), but they will take you to the JR Sapporo Station in just 36 minutes. Taxis are also an option but are very expensive, since they can cost up to ¥10,000 (US$ 88, Php 4,409) for a one-way ride to central Sapporo.
Like PAL, most carriers land on CTS. However, smaller flights also land on Okadama Airport (OKD) as well. OKD is located in Sapporo, so traveling to the business center of the city just takes about 20-30 minutes long. Airport Shuttle buses are a famous mode of transportation here, with a fare of just ¥400 (US$ 3, Php 176). Taking a taxi here to a major hotel in the city center will just cost you at least ¥2,500 (US$ 22, Php 1,102).
Getting around Sapporo is relatively easier even for first-time travelers because of the city’s organized grid plan roads. Since Sapporo is about the size of Hong Kong, the preferred mode of transportation here are buses and trains.
Buses generally have the most affordable fare rates, and travel most frequently. Bus fares start from ¥1,850 (US$ 16, Php 815) and travel as frequent as 30 minutes. On the other hand, trains are also a common mode of transportation, especially for longer distances. Train fares start from ¥2,360 (US$ 28.5, Php 1,040) and depart at least hourly. For short distances inside the city, however, getting a taxi ride may be the best deal, since they can be taken from nearly anywhere and anytime.
Where to eat in Sapporo
Soup Curry & Dining Suage+.
Location: 7 Chome-1-1 Maruyama Nishimachi, Ch??-ku, Sapporo
Curry was first introduced to Japan by the British during the Meiji Era. Since then, Japan has had its own version of curry. Soup Curry & Dining Suage+ is known for serving some of the best bowls of curry in Sapporo, so make sure to…scurry to this place. If you don’t feel like eating spicy stuff, you can tell the waiters to serve you otherwise.
Nemuro Hanamaru JR Tower Stellar Place
A trip to Japan won’t be enough without having some sushi. This restaurant in Sapporo is well-known for serving sushi and other local seafood dishes fresh and flawless. For the ultimate experience, make sure to grab a seat by the serving conveyor belt, and watch your sushi get made in front of you.
Sapporo Beer Garden
Located right next to the centuries-old Sapporo Beer Museum, Sapporo Beer Garden houses several restaurants. The restaurant on the second floor Kessel Hall is a grill restaurant that serves tender lamb meat, seafood, and vegetables. Of course, beer is the primary drink here.
Rokkatei, Sapporo Honten Restaurant
If you’re a sweet tooth, you’ll be please to know that Sapporo has some of very good cafes as well. Rokkatei, Sapporo Honten Restaurant serves cake slices and other bite-sized sweets that are delicately arranged on your plate.
What to do and see in Sapporo
Ski, Sled, and Snowboard at Sapporo International Ski Place
This should be the first destination for sports enthusiasts, or for travelers who want to try something new. Snowboarding and skiing are the most popular activities in this ski place. Sledding can also serve as a great experience for groups of friends.
Visit Mt. Okura Observatory
Mt. Okura Observatory is one of the few tourist attractions that can be appreciated in all four seasons. Since it’s very high, you’ll need to take a long escalator ride up to the main area, where you can enjoy the breathtaking view of Sapporo.
Sightseeing in the winter wonderland Yuki Matsuri
The Sapporo Snow Festival or Yuki Matsuri is held annually in either Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome. The festival consists of towering, glowing, snow and ice sculptures that will force you to freeze in awe in the middle of the winter temperature.
Have a bowl of ramen
Regardless of the season, a bowl of ramen is a classic treat. The Sapporo Ramen Republic and Sapporo Ichiryuan are some of the ramen shops found in clusters in central Sapporo. Ramen stalls close as late as 3 AM, and some also serve sake.
Ishiya Chocolate Factory
The chocolate factory offers a fun and educational tour inside the actual Chocolate Factory. During the tour, tourists has the opportunity to see how the chocolates are being made. Apart from the factory, the place also has a chocolate museum. Also, there are two restaurants, a souvenir store, and an hourly robot show. Famous for its white chocolate, which is sold under the brand “White Lovers”, and is only available in Hokkaido.
Where to Stay in Sapporo
Note: Most big hotels in Sapporo have multilingual staff, so there is no need to worry about language barriers. Here are three of the most recommended hotels, budget- and accessibility-wise.
Vessel Inn Sapporo Nakajima Park
Location: 1-2, Nishi 4, Minami 9, Chuo-ku, Nakajima Park, Sapporo, Japan, 064-0809
Check Rates and Book Online via Agoda
A well-known hotel that offers affordable accommodation, Vessel Inn Sapporo Nakajima Park has cozy and warm rooms that overlook Sapporo’s cityscape. This hotel is perfect not just for lone travelers, but for families as well.
JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo
Address: 2-5 Kita 5Jou Nishi, Chuo-Ku, Sapporo Station, Sapporo, Japan, 060-0005
Check Rates and Book Online via Agoda
This luxury hotel right in the heart of Sapporo offers high-speed Wi-Fi and a business center with Internet access. All rooms are air conditioned and include a refrigerator, which is perfect for longer-staying tourists. There are designated smoking rooms in the hotel.
Ibis Styles Sapporo
Location: Nishi 3chome 10 10, Minami 8jo Chuo ku, Nakajima Park, Sapporo, Japan, 640808
Check for the Lowest Rates and Book Online via Agoda
This accommodation offers packages that include breakfasts, which are perfect for couples traveling together. The elegant rooms in this hotel are warm and cozy, and are not too bright. Inside the hotel is a very wide restaurant and a bar where guests can spend time in. Ibis Styles Sapporo is also known for having affordable accommodation rates.
Sapporo Park Hotel
Location: 1-1, Minami-10, Nishi-3, Chuo-ku, Nakajima Park, Sapporo, Japan, 064-8589
Affordable Rates and Book Online via Agoda
Situated near Nakajima Train Station is Sapporo Park Hotel, which overlooks Sapporo Park’s lake at one side and the cityscape on the other. This four-star hotel has a restaurant that serves exquisite Japanese cuisine.
Shopping in Sapporo
Sapporo Factory is a big mall that sells both international brands and local brands. There are also souvenir shops, like the Souvenir Shop Mina Mina. The Sapporo Drug Store isn’t a souvenir shop, but it sells a variety of items that you can only find in Japan so you might find something interesting there! Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, walking in Sapporo Factory will be a nice immersive cultural tour.
Sapporo Jyogai Market / Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
This is a farmer’s market that sells the freshest seafood in Sapporo. Of course, there is no way to bring a crab home, but it’s very interesting to see Sapporo’s version of the wet market. You may also buy Japanese snacks, dried fish flakes, and other spices from here, and you can take those home.
Aurora Town is an underground shopping street that is connected to the Odori Subway. There are plenty of stalls here that sell souvenir and local items, and there are plenty more restaurants here that you won’t find anywhere else in Sapporo as well.
Sapporo Travel tips
- Sapporo has very extremely hot summers, reaching up to 97 Fahrenheit, and very cold winters, when temperatures drop to as low as 20.1 to even as low as -19 Fahrenheit. March to June and September to October have calmer temperatures. However, if you’re after the Yuki Matsuri, be prepared to conquer the cold of February.
- If you visit during the winter, you might notice that there are scattered sands on the icy roads. This is to prevent slippage. You can purchase your own bag of sand from nearby “grit bin” and scatter them as well—it’s a tradition in the snowy city of Sapporo.
- If you feel like you’re up for a more immersive tour, you can rent a bike in Sapporo. There are several bike rentals and only require a passport. There are many bicycle parking areas in the city, and you’ll be provided with a lock upon rental as well.
- Sapporo has a strong campaign against smoking, so make sure to avoid smoking in public areas, and even in restaurants, unless you are given permission beforehand. Signs that are dedicated for smoking have signs that indicate that they are, so be on the lookout for those.
Important Contact Info for Tourists
- Sapporo City Call Center | 011-222-4894, 8:00 ~ 21:00 Open all year
- Sapporo Citizen Contact Center – 011-222-4894
- Injury, sudden illness, fires – 119
- Hospitals and Hotline Catering to Foreign Nationals during
- Nighttime Hours and on Holidays – 011-722-1110?
- Emergency Relief Center Sapporo is a 24-hour telephone health hotline – 7119
- Traffic accidents and crimes – 110
Many thanks to Sapporo City Tourism Office for letting us experience Sapporo Snow Festival 2017 in Hokkaido Prefecture.