With a population of 1,800,000, Sapporo is the fifth-largest city in Japan. A lot of historical attractions, as well as shopping malls and parks, are located in Sapporo, and draw many tourists in year after year. Attractions include the Former Hokkaidō government office building, the Sapporo Clock Tower, the Hokkaidō Shrine (Hokkaidō Jingū), and the Sapporo TV Tower. A friendly, fun-loving atmosphere pervades downtown and during the winter months many people join in at snow and ice sculpture in downtown’s Odori Park.
Odori means ‘large street’ and this 12-block long and 105-metre wide centrally located park runs right through the city centre and is definitely the place to go if you want to be in the thick of things. In summer you’ll be treated to many talented and entertaining street performers, lots of snack vendors, local beer and a vibrant street scene whereas in winter erecting snow and ice sculptures is a popular pastime, no more so than during the Yuki Matsuri – the Snow Festival held every February. Other Odori Park festivals include the Lilac Festival in May, the Yosakoi Soran Festival in June, the Beer Garden and Summer Festival in summer, the White Illumination in winter and various other events. Sapporo Summer Festival is celebrated with beer gardens set up by various beer companies through the length of the park alongside stalls selling fried noodles, corn on the cob, and other food. Live bands provide entertainment, and you’ll enjoy some great people watching.
- Location: Downtown Sapporo
Mount Okura Observatory/Winter Sports Museum
Sapporo played host to the 1972 winter Olympics and many of the events were held on Mt. Okura where the ski jump overlooks the city. Today the jump is still used, not only for sporting events but as a tourist outlook sometimes known as the Okurayama or Okura Observatory. The top of the jump is 300 metres high and from the observation deck you can get views of Sapporo, the Ishikari Plain and Ishikari Bay. The adjacent Winter Sports Museum is full of interesting memorabilia from the Olympics as well as race and bobsled simulators.
- Opening Hours: May – Oct 09:00 – 18:00; Nov – Apr 09:30 – 17:00
- Location: Mount Okura
Sapporo Beer Museum
Sapporo Beer is one of the oldest and largest beer brands in Japan. Sapporo Beer Museum, the only museum of its type in Japan, was opened in July of 1987 to provide visitors with knowledge of beer and brewing. Renovated in 2004, the exhibition allows guests to learn about the history of Sapporo Breweries Ltd. and the beer industry in Japan in general. The red-brick building was constructed in 1890 and was the site of the Sapporo Sugar Company factory. It is one of the cultural legacies of the Meiji Era.
- Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 18:00
- Tel: +81 (0)11 731 4368
- How to get there: 10-minute walk from Higashi-kuyakusho subway station on the Touhou-Line, or via bus get off at Sapporo Beer Museum Stop on the 88 line or Kita 8 Higashi 7 stop on East No.63 or East 3 line.
Historical Museum of Hokkaido
Devoted to the natural environment as well as the historical development of Hokkaido, the most-northern major island of the Japanese archipelago, this museum represents a great day out for families and is a good ‘edutainment’ opportunity in Sapparo. The main exhibition covers the history of Hokkaido from about two million years ago up to the present day. It is divided into eight chronological stages. The exhibits covering the Ainu, the native aborigines, and the Early Modern Era (1869-1886) are arguably the most impressive of the collection. Educational programs, including weaving, milling with stone mortar, as well as a hands-on experience with tools and implements make this a great day out for children.
- Opening Hours: Tue – Sun 09:30 – 16:30
- Location: 53-2 Atsubetsucho-konopporo
- Tel: +81 (0)11 898 0456
Living Museum of Toyohira Salmon
It may seem a tad unconventional to visit a ‘Salmon Museum’ but this really is the perfect place to take the kids for a hands-on nature learning experience. The museum features exhibits, models, reading and video materials all about different species of salmon and related fish. Visitors can observe mature salmon in an underground observation room. Throughout the year different activities take place to educate children on fish. In the spring, children have an opportunity to release salmon fry into the river, and in summer they can catch them with a net for observation then release them again.
- Opening Hours: 09:15 – 16:45, Closed on Mondays
- Location: 2-1 Makomanai Koen, Minami-ku
- Tel: +81 (0)11 582 7555
Sapporo TV Tower
Overlooking the east end of Odori Park and downtown Sapporo, the 147-metre-high TV Tower affords views out over the city and the distant mountains and is conveniently built over a bus station and the meeting point of several subway lines. Its ground floor has a tourist information centre with multilingual facilities and a booth to buy tickets to the observation gallery. The 90-metre high observation deck is ideal for panoramic photos. There’s a sense of antiquity about the tower (it was built in 1957) and this is certainly helped by rather used-looking digital clocks on the sides. Once the most prominent building in town, nowadays nearby high-rises dwarf it.
- Opening Hours: Apr 1 - 30 from 09:30 – 22:00; May 1 - Oct 31 from 09:00 – 22:00
- Location: Odori Nishi 1-chome, Chuo-ku
- Tel: +81 (0)11 241 1131
Old Hokkaido Government Building
Known locally as ‘Red Bricks’, the Old Hokkaido Government Building was built in 1888 in Neo-Baroque style and was, at the time, the largest and tallest building in the country. Brick buildings are rare in Japan so it is normal that the old government building should be considered a local attraction. Restored after a fire in 1968, the building contains the Archives of Hokkaido and the Gallery of Hokkaido's History of the Historical Museum of Hokkaido, providing visitors an introduction to the history and culture of the area. Visitors can also view the opulent executive offices of past administrators and governors.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00
- Location: North 3, West 6, Chuo-ku
- Tel: +81 (0)11 204 5019
A Sapporo natural attraction, this steaming natural hot spring can be reached by bus from Sapporo city centre and is set in an impressive canyon, famous for its hot waterfall, which is known locally as the 'yu-no-taki'. The spring is perfect for escaping the city summer heat, or simply for warming up in the cold winter. The salty water is believed to be beneficial for sufferers of rheumatic disorders.
- Opening Hours: Daily 24 hours
- Location: Higashi 4-chome, Sapporo, 13 061 2302
- Tel: +81 (0)11 598 2012
Sapporo Clock Tower
In spite of its somewhat modest appearance the Sapporo Clock Tower is considered an important symbol of Sapporo. It houses a museum introducing the history of the Agricultural College and the development of the city. Built in 1878, like many Sapporo historical attractions it was the tallest building in town when first erected but nowadays it is dwarfed by its neighbours. The tower building is of American design, and the actual clockworks are also of late 19th century American manufacture.
- Opening Hours: 08:45 – 17:10 Closed Mon
- Location: Kita 1-jo Nishi 2-chome, Chuo-ku
- Tel: +81 (0)11 231 0838
JR Tower Observation Deck
The view from JR Tower's 160-metre high observatory ‘Tower 38’ is far reaching and impressive. From the deck 160 metres above the ground, nothing gets in the way of the 360-degree panoramic vistas. This observation deck is on the top floor (38F) of JR Tower, a commercial complex that houses shops, restaurants, department stores and a hotel. On the deck, a café sells coffee by day and drinks by night, and there’s a souvenir shop.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 23:00
- How to get there: A five-minute walk from Sapporo Subway Station (Namboku Line)
Ishiya Shiroi Koibito Park (Chocolate Factory)
It’s hard to believe but chocolate is a very popular souvenir of Sapporo. Shiroi Koibito Park with its chocolate factory is a veritable wonderland for the sweet toothed, where Shiroi Koibito cookies (a symbol of Hokkaido) are manufactured. The park also features Tudor House, which is reminiscent of Medieval England; and a field used by the local pro soccer team, Consadole Sapporo.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 18:00
- How to get there: Tozai Subway Line to Miyanosawa Station then walk seven minutes. From Sapporo Station Bus Terminal, take the JR Hokkaido Bus from platforms 4, 5 or 6 to the Nishimachi kita nijutchome bus stop.
Maruyama Zoo and Maruyama Park
The park and the precincts of Hokkaido Shrine, adjacent to the park, are known for their striking spring cherry blossoms. Many business people, students and families visit the park in April and early May to enjoy cherry blossoms at their peak. During the peak season, barbeques are permitted and the park has tap water and public toilets. Hokkaido Shrine is at the north end of the park, and Maruyama Primeval Forest is at the southern end. Athletic tracks, a baseball stadium and tennis courts are also here while Maruyama Zoo and Maruyama Kids’ Land are located within the park grounds. Marayuma Zoo is one of the largest zoos in Hokkaido, housing about 1,000 mammals, birds and reptiles with a total of 200 species. One of the attractive features at the zoo is a bear house, where seven species of bears can be observed. The chimpanzee house has a 15-metre-high jungle gym so that visitors can watch their behaviour. Monkey Mountain is popular, as is the Petting Zoo with its goats and sheep. The zoo also offers kids’ rides.
- Opening Hours: Feb – Oct from 09:00 – 17:00; Nov – Jan from 09:00 – 16:00
- How to get there: From Maruyama Koen Subway Station (Tozai Line), take the Nishi #15 Dobutsuen-sen JR Hokkaido Bus to the Dobutsuen-mae bus stop, or walk 15 minutes.