Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan. It's located in southern Hokkaido and is one of the country's largest cities. It's not only a hub that provides easy access to Hokkaido's mountains and hot springs but also a thriving city with many attractions. Aside from Sapporo's Snow Festival in February, the best time to visit Hokkaido is summer.
Things to Do in Sapporo
Dining: Sapporo's wonderful dining scene offers many delicious specialty foods such as ramen noodles, Jing isu kan (grilled mutton) and soup curry dishes. Sapporo is also home to the Sapporo beer brewery, which you can tour.
Odori Park: This must-see park covers 13 blocks in the heart of the city and hosts many events and festivals. Here you'll find the TV Tower built in 1956. It has a great view of the city from its observation deck. For a little bit of fun in the park, check out the famous Black Slide Mantra sculpture that you can slide down.
Hokkaido University Botanical Garden: This garden features 200 plants and herbs used to make food, medicine, and clothing.
Clock Tower: Built in 1878, this landmark is the oldest building in Sapporo. Take a picture of this historic structure, then visit the museum inside.
Sapporo Snow Festival: The city is well-known for the Sapporo Snow Festival, a seven-day festival that attracts millions of visitors every February. You'll see hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures. Teams from around the world compete in the International Snow Sculpture Contest.
Best Time to Visit Hokkaido
If the Snow Festival doesn't interest you, summer is the best time to visit Hokkaido. That's when it's cooler than other regions of Japan that get hot and humid. According to the 30-year normals (1981 - 2010) by Japan Meteorological Agency, the average annual temperature in Sapporo is 8.9 degrees Celcius.
Access to Sapporo
From the New Chitose Airport, it takes about 40 minutes by JR express train to JR Sapporo Station. By bus, it takes about 75 minutes to the center of Sapporo.
By train, take the JR Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto (4 hours). Then transfer to the Hokuto limited express, which gets you to Sapporo in 3.5 hours. The Japan Rail Pass and JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass both cover the trip.
Ferry services are operated between Oarai and Tomakomai by the MOL Ferry; between Nagoya, Sendai and Tomakomai by the Taiheiyo Ferry; and between Niigata, Tsuruga or Maizuru and Otaru or Tomakomai by the Shin Nihonkai Ferry.
For more Sapporo travel information, visit Sapporo Tourist Association website.