Sapporo (札幌) is the prefectural capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. As a popular winter resort destination, Japan’s fifth-largest city also offers a wealth of culture, art, and natural beauty, alongside its ski slopes, neon nightlife, and compelling food scene.Read more
Sapporo is a modern city of 2 million people that remarkably sees copious amounts of snow—up to 5 meters—every winter; this makes it one of the top six snowiest cities in the world. Sapporo’s chilly appeal was cemented as the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics. Even now, every year, the annual Sapporo Snow Festival brings visitors in droves, hoping to witness the snow and ice sculptures that line the city’s streets.
Nevertheless, Sapporo is an ideal destination any time of year with its cool summers gaining favor to host the marathons at Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (held in 2021). Summer also sees Sapporites head outdoors, with fireworks lighting up the skies and beer gardens in full flow. Sapporo is the proud home of Sapporo Beer, a world-famous beer first brewed in 1876. The beer pairs well with local food culture too, with miso ramen, fresh seafood including crab, and soup curry some of the standout options that define Sapporo’s food scene. Sapporo is said to be the culinary capital of Hokkaido, where all of the prefecture’s best foods are gathered.
In addition to its reputation as a winter resort, Sapporo excels across the board as a compelling tourism destination. Art and nature converge at many of the city’s outdoor attractions, with some stunning examples of Japanese culture and nature in harmony to be discovered, like the Tadao Ando-designed Hill of the Buddha at Makomanai.
Last but not least, Sapporo is also known as the ‘gateway to Hokkaido.’ New Chitose Airport provides the most convenient and fastest way to reach Hokkaido for most and is just 40 minutes from the city center. It’s also well-connected by bus and train, making it an ideal base from which to visit other regional destinations, like coastal Otaru further north.
Travelers heading to Sapporo may want to stay for several days, given the wealth of things to do, places to go and local dishes to eat.Show Less