Sapporo (札幌) is the capital of the northernmost main island of Hokkaido (北海道). The island is notorious for its many festivals and winter illuminations as well as masses of seafood. You can find some of the best mountain ranges and hot springs here as well.
With well over one million inhabitants, Sapporo is by far the largest city of the island. It is Japan’s fifth largest city and very young compared to other major cities. The easiest access to it is via plane, landing in the New-Chitose Airport. There’s also a Shinkansen (新幹線) route. More info on access further below.
Sapporo is famous for its miso-based Ramen (ラーメン).
I plan on visiting Sapporo and the rest of Hokkaido thoroughly on my all-around Japan trip next year. It’s only about a week until I set foot in Japan for the 4th time. Can’t wait!!
After I visited, I’ll give you even more personalized information and photos to look at.
Sapporo is definitely a must-visit destination when coming to Hokkaido. It is quite a big city, but not to the same degree as Tokyo (東京) or Osaka (大阪) for example. You can expect a different atmosphere here. The people of Hokkaido as well as its cuisine also share their own uniqueness.
List of things to do and see
For now, let me tell you about the various things you can do and see in Sapporo:
Be sure to check out the individual articles to get more details about the sights including access and opening hours.
Sapporo is located quite centrally in Hokkaido so you can do some nice daytrips to nearby cities. Some good examples would be Otaru, Takikawa and even Asahikawa. Hakodate (函館) and Noboribetsu are also not that far away.
The Olympic Winter games in 1972 were held in Sapporo, chances are they will be held here once again in the future. This city is also the origin of the famous Sapporo beer brand, my personal favorite of the “big 4” (Asahi, Kirin, Suntory and Sapporo).
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How to get to Sapporo
As mentioned in the beginning, Sapporo lies on the northern island of Hokkaido, quite a bit away from Tokyo. The cheapest and most convenient method of getting there is by plane.
The route Tokyo-Sapporo is one of the busiest in the world with dozens of flights a day. The main connection is via Tokyo’s Haneda airport (羽田), but some also leave from Narita (成田). The two major airlines Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) both cover this connection with discounted prices (for foreign travelers). It usually costs around 11,000 – 12,000 Yen (92€/$101 – 100€/$110; exchange rate as of November 2019) one way.
If you want to go even cheaper than that, you can check out budget airlines like Peach or Jetstar which fly for under 10,000 Yen (83€/$92) but may lack some service quality.
The next better option is to travel by train. There is a Shinkansen (JR Tohoku/Hokkaido) connection between Tokyo and Hakodate, from where you must transfer to another train (Hokuto limited express) to get to Sapporo. In total you this will take about 8 hours and cost around 27,000 Yen (225€/$248) one way.
Sapporo is the heart of Japan’s youngest major island of Hokkaido. You definitely shouldn’t miss this city when coming here. It has the vibe of a major city but is still very different to the likes of Tokyo or Osaka.
I recommend coming here in February when the annual Snow festival is going on. Huge snow sculptures are shown, allowing for amazing photos. Be sure to book hotels and flights well ahead though, as it is really popular.
Try delicious Ramen, drink some of the best beer in the country and check out the various sights. You won’t be disappointed.
That’s it for Sapporo, I hope you enjoyed it!
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Next up on the list is Fukuoka (福岡), the heart of Kyushu (九州). It’s only a week left until I leave for Japan. Because of various preparations before and after I arrive, I probably won’t be able to release a blog article until around the middle of December.
I will of course write something before if I can make, but don’t count on it.
Sorry for the delay, I hope to see you in the next article once I’m finally back in Japan!