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Region
Hokkaido
Island
Hokkaido
Largest City
Sapporo
Population
5,682,950

Sapporo

An entertaining gateway to the Hokkaido wilderness.

Japan’s fifth largest city, Sapporo has experienced rapid growth in a relatively short time period. Japan sought the advice of foreign experts during the island’s large-scale development in the 19th century, designated the city as the regional capital and built everything in a North American grid style.

It’s a modern contrast to the primitive natural landscape that surrounds it but still with a distinct Hokkaido vibe.

Before you head out into the wilderness, spend some time exploring the city’s urban parks and check out the former Olympic Ski Jump stadium, sampling some of the country’s best seafood at Curb market in between.

Put on your stretchy pants and explore Sapporo's ramen street.

Put on your stretchy pants and explore Sapporo’s ramen street.

Susukino, Japan’s largest entertainment district north of Tokyo, has a dedicated ramen alleyway lined with shops offering up Sapporo’s famous miso ramen and then of course, there’s Sapporo beer, brewing since 1877 and sold all over the world. The Sapporo Beer museum and its adjacent beer garden has an atmospheric hall where you can take on the all-you-can-eat “Genghis Khan”, layers of mutton barbecued on an open grill.

Performers stand in front of a giant snow sculpture at the Sapporo snow festival

See gravity-defying ice sculptures at the famous Yuki Matsuri.

One of Japan’s most popular winter festivals, the Sapporo “Yuki Matsuri” (snow festival) is either the best or worst week to visit Hokkaido, depending on your feelings about large crowds. More than two million people attend the festival each year to see the breathtaking snow and ice sculptures on show in three main districts of the city. You’ll find all of the festival trimmings; food stalls, music, children’s activities, an ice bar and even hot air balloons.

How To Get There

By train

The JR Tohoku/Hokkaido bullet train now connects Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto where you can transfer to the Hokuto limited express to Sapporo. The whole journey takes around 8 hours and is covered by the JR pass.

 

By bus

Several bus routes run between Sapporo and the rest of Hokkaido at a cheaper rate than the train. The really adventurous can take the bus from Tokyo, though the journey will take more than 17 hours not including transfers.

Where To Stay

UNIZO Inn Sapporo
  • Chuo-ku, Kita 1jo Nishi 3-3-10 Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido 060-0001
  • 8.5/10
  • 0.2 km
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Cross Hotel Sapporo
  • Chuo-ku Kita 2-jo Nishi 2-23 Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido 060-0002
  • 8.5/10
  • 0.2 km
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Nest Hotel Sapporo Ekimae
  • Chuo-ku Kita 2-jo Nishi 2-9 Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido 060-0002
  • 8/10
  • 0.2 km
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Hotel Hokke Club Sapporo
  • Chuo-ku Kita 2-jo Nishi 3 Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido 060-0002
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.3 km
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