As the largest city in Hokkaido, Sapporo is a destination that most travellers will visit in the mountainous northern island of Japan. In 1972, the Olympic Winter Games were held outside Europe and North America for the first time, and Sapporo was chosen as the official venue. Since then, Sapporo became world famous. Now, Hokkaido’s capital city is best known for its ramen, beer, skiing and the annual snow festival held in February. Therefore, when you visit Sapporo, ensure you include all these in your trip. This article will help you plan your 1-day itinerary for a best winter tour in Sapporo. Read on to find out how!
1. Start your day at Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
The best way to know more about a city’s local culture is through a tour at the local market. Since Hokkaido is known for its fresh seafood, why not start your day with a visit to the commercial hub of Sapporo - the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market (札幌市中央卸売市場)? Locals visit the large central market with over 60 stores to buy cheap and fresh ingredients. The Curb Market (Jyogai Ichiba) just beside the wholesale market is the ideal place for a delectable meal cooked with the freshest agricultural produce. Come to the market early to soak in the buzzing atmosphere in the morning. Enjoy the sight of customers negotiating prices with vendors at the stalls, and taste the freshest seafood such as king crab, hairy crab and salmon roe you can lay your hands on. For a truly yummy local breakfast, try the highly recommended seafood bowl (Kaisendon) from one of the cosy restaurants at the Curb Market!
Sapporo Central Wholesale Market (札幌市中央卸売市場)
Address: Kita 11-jo Nishi 21-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City
Price: free admission.
Opening Hours: 6am - 5pm (restaurants open at 7am).
Duration: around 1.5 hours required.
Access: 7-minute walk from Nijyu-yonken Station exit 5 on Tozai Subway Line.
Contact: +81 11-621-7044
2. Visit the site that made Sapporo world famous - Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium
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Now that you have filled your stomach with delish food, let’s proceed to Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium (大倉山ジャンプ競技場). This was where the world first got to know of Sapporo, as the 90-metre ski jump competitions of the 1972 Olympic Winter Games were held here. Ascend to the top of the hill via a chair lift for splendid views of the city. At the foot of the hill, there is a Sapporo Winter Sports Museum showcasing winter sports such as ski jump, bobsled and biathlon, as well as information about the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics. Have fun playing sports simulation games in the museum and practise your ski jumping, speed skating or hockey skills.
Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium (大倉山ジャンプ競技場)
Address: 1274 Miyanomori, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City
Price: 500 JPY (4.50 USD) for a round-trip chair lift ticket to the observatory; 600 JPY (5.35 USD) for museum entrance fee.
Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm (observatory); 9.30am - 5pm (museum).
Duration: around 1.5 hours required.
Access: 15-minute JR Bus (Maru 14) ride (200 JPY) from Maruyama Koen Station exit 2 on Tozai Subway Line. Thereafter walk for about 10 minutes to the stadium from the bus stop.
Contact: +81 11-641-8585
3. Enter the fantasy world of sweets at Shiroi Koibito Park
The Shiroi Koibito cookie, which consists of a layer of white chocolate sandwiched by two thin butter cookies, is one of the most well known souvenirs in Hokkaido. Sapporo is the birthplace of Ishiya, the company behind this famous cookie. The Shiroi Koibito Park is a theme park run by Ishiya, where you can enjoy a tour of its chocolate factory, savour Ishiya’s original sweets, or try your hands at making your own Shiroi Koibito cookies (reservation required). Be amazed by the tin toy exhibits from the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods (1868 - 1989) and enjoy the mechanical doll performance at the Sapporo Mechanical Clock Tower. Needless to say, you can also sample the wide variety of sweets in the park and purchase souvenirs exclusive to the park for your loved ones back home.
Shiroi Koibito Park
Address: Miyanomori 2-jo 2-chome, Nishi-ku, Sapporo City
Price: 600 JPY (5.35 USD). Separate charges apply for Cookie Craft Studio workshops.
Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm (last admission at 5pm).
Duration: around 2 hours required.
Access: 10-minute walk from Miyanosawa Station on Tozai Subway Line.
Contact: +81 11-666-1481
4. Sapporo Clock Tower - the symbol of the city
A trip to Sapporo is not complete if you miss a visit to the symbol of the city - the Sapporo Clock Tower built in the late 1800s. It may be the oldest clock tower in the country, but it is still functioning today. Read about Sapporo’s history through the exhibits in its museum. Before you leave, don’t forget to take a commemorative photo with this iconic colonial American midwest-style architecture right in the city centre.
Sapporo Clock Tower (時計台)
Address: North 1, West 2, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City
Price: 200 JPY (1.80 USD).
Opening Hours: 8.45am - 5.10pm (last admission at 5pm). Closed from 31 December to 3 January.
Duration: around 1 hour required.
Access: 10-minute walk from JR Sapporo Station, south exit.
Contact: +81 11-231-0838
5. Sapporo ramen lunch at Susukino’s Ramen Yokocho
After visiting so many places in the morning, it is time to “refuel” yourself again. Stop for lunch at the Ramen Yokocho (ラーメン横丁), which means noodles street in Japanese, in Susukino. Right in the heart of the red light district of Susukino, there are two narrow alleys filled with Sapporo ramen restaurants facing each other. The original alley, Ganso Ramen Yokocho has over 60 years of history, when the first ramen restaurant opened in 1951. Ichigen (えびそば 一幻 総本店) is a popular ramen restaurant that you can find in Susukino. Savour its unique ramen made with a shrimp stock based broth. Or take your pick from the numerous ramen restaurants located here and have a ramen feast.
Ganso Ramen Yokocho (ラーメン横丁)
Address: 3 Chome Minami 5 Jonishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City
Price: varies depending on restaurant.
Opening Hours: restaurant opening hours vary, but generally open from 11am till late.
Access: short walk from Susukino Subway Station.
6. Grab a panoramic view of Sapporo from Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill
Just 30 minutes away from the city centre is the Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill (羊ヶ丘展望台), overlooking Ishikari Plain with the Sapporo Dome standing out from the idyllic city view. This is where you can feel like you are in the countryside even though you have not travelled too far out. As its local name implies, this is a hill for the sheep. In fact, the observation hill is housed within the Hokkaido National Agricultural Research Center grounds.
Check out the famous bronze statue of Dr. William S. Clark, a leader in agricultural education, standing on the hill. A must-do here is to take a photo of yourself in front of Dr. Clark’s statue and have fun raising your right arm just like him! After the customary shot, you can tour the Sapporo Snow Festival Museum exhibiting the evolution of the famous festival over the past 60 years. Or enjoy cross country skiing or snow-tubing at the Snow Park. If your feet are aching, soak and relax in the hot spring Hitsujigaoka Footbath while enjoying the tranquil view at the hill.
Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill (羊ヶ丘展望台)
Address: Hitsujigaoka-1, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo City
Price: 520 JPY (4.60 USD).
Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm.
Duration: around 1.5 hours required.
Access: 10-minute bus ride from Fukuzumi station on Toho Subway Line.
Contact: +81 11-851-3080
7. Walk in the sky at Mount Moiwa
Sapporo is the capital city of the mountainous Hokkaido island in Japan. So it only feels right to make your way up at least one mountain when you are in the city. Mount Moiwa (藻岩山), known by the local Ainu people as a sacred mountain is the ideal mountainous spot to visit as it is not too far from the city centre. At an altitude of 531 metres (1,742 feet), feel as if you are walking in the sky as you reach its summit for a spectacular view of the streets of Sapporo, Ishikari Bay in the Sea of Japan and Shokanbetsu Peak in Mashike town.
Ascend the mountain via the scenic ropeway ride on Sapporo’s only streetcar line from Susukino, followed by a mini cable car ride to the summit with an observation deck and restaurant. The night view of Sapporo is listed as one of “Japan’s New 3 Best Night Views”. Since you will only reach the summit in the late afternoon, why not hold on for a little longer to wait for the alluring sunset so that you will be rewarded with a magnificent bird’s eye view of the city?
Mount Moiwa (藻岩山)
Address: Fushimi 5-chome 3-7, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City
Price: 1,700 JPY (15.30 USD, roundtrip for ropeway and mini cable car); 1,100 JPY (9.90 USD, roundtrip for ropeway only); 600 JPY (5.35 USD, roundtrip for mini cable car only).
Opening Hours: 11am - 10pm (last admission 30 minutes before closing).
Duration: around 1.5 hours required.
Access: 25-minute tram ride to “Ropeway Iriguchi” station (170 JPY, 1.50 USD).
Contact: +81 11-561-8177
8. Feast and chill over Sapporo beer at Sapporo Beer Garden
Although nights are longer in winter, it doesn’t mean you have to return to hotel as soon as it gets dark. Let’s proceed to the Sapporo Beer Garden for a sumptuous dinner feast. Built on the grounds of a former brewery during the Meiji Period, the Sapporo Beer Garden has been registered as a Hokkaido Heritage Site since 2004. Enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet with over 20 types of local specialty dishes, including king crab, snow crab and Genghis Khan pot (grilled lamb and mutton). You can also chill over the famous Sapporo Beer and drink to your heart’s content here!
Sapporo Beer Garden
Address: 9-2-10, Kita7Jo, Higashi-ku, Sapporo City
Price: from 4,212 JPY (37.50 USD) for All-You-Can-Eat + All-You-Can-Drink buffet.
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 10pm (last order at 9.30pm).
Access: 10-minute walk from Higashi Kuyakusho Mae Station, exit 4.
Contact: +81 120-150-550
A fulfilling day in Sapporo
Fresh seafood, miso ramen, Sapporo beer - yummy local delicacies ✓ Sapporo Central Wholesale Market, Sapporo Clock Tower, Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium - city landmarks ✓ Experience a simulation game of skiing - winter sport ✓ Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill, Mount Moiwa - picturesque scenery in the mountains ✓ Shiroi Koibito cookies - famous souvenir ✓ As you can see, just within a day, you have already completed the must-do checklist in charming Sapporo. A fulfilling day, isn’t it? There are many more activities that you can enjoy in the city. Spend more time in Sapporo so that you can explore the city at a more leisurely pace next time!
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