Things To Do
Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, the mountainous northern island of Japan is famous for seafood, beer, skiing and the annual Sapporo Snow Festival which takes place each February.
Here are some ideas of things to do if you have some free time in Japan’s fifth largest city.
Sapporo Beer Museum
Sapporo Beer Museum is Japan’s only museum dedicated to beer! Explore the long history of this famous Japanese beer since the 1870’s after the humble brew was introduced to Japan by the Dutch in the 17th Century. It became apparent that beer was very popular which has long replaced Sake as the most widely consumed alcoholic drink of choice in Japan. Self-guided tours are free of charge (payment required for tastings) or you can pay for a premium guided tour.
Sapporo Snow Festival
If you are lucky enough to visit Sapporo at the beginning of February, a visit to Sapporo Snow Festival is an absolute must to view the works of talented ice sculptures from around the world. The festival started in 1950 when high school students built a few statues in Odori Park and since developed into a large, commercialised event which attracts more than two million locals, visitors from around Japan and overseas. It’s the main social event in the city so expect it to be crowded but the amazing ice sculptures on display are incredible and definitely worth the crowds. We highly recommend a visit at night when the sculptures are illuminated.
Ishiya Chocolate Factory
If you are travelling with younger ones then this is certainly an attraction you shouldn’t miss. You can pay to take a tour of the factory or skip that and visit the grounds of Shiroi Koibito Park (the Ishiya Factory made the park and named it after their best–selling product Shiroi Koibito –meaning ‘White Lovers’). Shiroi Koibito is the signature treat of Sapporo and you’ll find them all over town if you don’t make it to the factory. The park has a winter wonderland feel about it and looks especially magical in the evening when everything is lit up with coloured lights. Come and enjoy the chocolate, cakes, ice cream and hot chocolate.
When in Sapporo you really must indulge in some amazing seafood, especially try the hairy crab (kegani), uni (sea urchin), ikura (salmon roe) and all kinds of fresh sashimi. There are so many wonderful restaurants serving the freshest seafood, you really are spoilt for choice, but if time is limited, and you are overwhelmed with options then take a trip to Sapporo Wholesale Market (also known as Sapporo Jogai Ichiba). The seafood and fresh produce market is well known for its many small restaurants serving outstanding seafood at a cheap price. Try a kaisen don which is a rice bowl topped with a variety of seafood.