Tuesday, October 15, 2013

10 Fun Things to do in Sapporo

Situated on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, Sapporo felt like a smaller, laid back version of Tokyo. But don't let its size deter you. This city is jam packed with plenty of fun activities.

sapporo ten fun things to do

Wanting to get an escape from the big city for a few days, myself and a few friends decided to visit Sapporo. I've never been to Hokkaido so I was pretty excited to say the least. Its a small city, with a population less than one tenth the size of Tokyo, so the four days we spent there was an ample amount of time to see everything the city has to offer. The atmosphere was friendly and laid back, and it felt almost like a miniature version of Tokyo. So here is a list of my 10 favourite things we did in Sapporo!


#01 | CLIMB THE SAPPORO TV TOWER


Situated in the heart of the city centre, the Sapporo TV Tower gives you a 360° panoramic view of the city. Shaped like the Eiffel Tower, the observation deck stands at a mere 90m, but for ¥700 its a good way to start an evening. We opted to go on our second evening in Sapporo just before sunset so we could watch the city skyline transform from day to night.

night view sapporo city centre tv tower
night view sapporo city centre tv tower view
night view sapporo city centre tv tower view


#02 | ENJOY A LUNCH AT THE CURB MARKET


The Curb Market, one of the largest markets in Sapporo consists of almost 80 shops specialising in fresh seafood and food. If you are looking for the freshest seafood in Sapporo this is the place to be. The restaurants line the whole street giving you a huge selection variety. My Japanese friend Ken and I decided to grab lunch here on our second day. Since I love salmon roe and have always wanted to try Sapporo crab (apparently the crab from Sapporo is the best in Japan) I got a dish with both. Ken wanted more variety so he got a dish with 10 different selections of seafood.

sapporo curb market lunch


#03 | SPEND A FEW HOURS AT THE SAPPORO BEER MUSEUM


Sapporo Beer, arguably one of the most popular brands of beer originates from where else, but Sapporo. This museum was opened up in a former brewery and if you walk around the grounds you can still see the old distillery machines. When we visited this museum we thought it looked like an old Soviet building with the red star on the top. The museum features an extensive selection of Sapporo products from old advertisements to bottles to beer caps and an exhibit dedicated to the method of making beer. The museum itself is only 3 levels, but we spent a good 3 hours looking at everything. At the end of the museum is a beer hall where you can sample the different flavours of beer. My Swedish friend Fredrik got a sampler of 3 beers and beer flavoured crackers. Oh and the best part about this museum- its FREE!

sapporo beer museum outside


#04 | WALK ALONG THE TANUKIKOJI SHOPPING STREET


When I travel, the last thing I want to do is spend half my trip shopping. But the Tanukikoji shopping street is more than just a shopping arcade. Featuring over 200 shops on a 1 km strip of road in central Sapporo, Tanukikoji has everything from food to souvenir shops to karaoke bars. But one of my favourite features of this street is at night after many of the shops close it turns into a busking paradise. I saw buskers doing crazy dances in robot masks, and another doing portraits of people in anime style. Further down we came across a group of girls huddled together with a sign in front of them that said if you are feeling depressed you can talk to the girls and they will pay you a compliment. The street also featured lots of graffiti art. It gave the whole arcade a youthful and urban feel.

tanukikoji shopping street long view
tanukikoji shopping street buskers


#05 | VISIT SAPPORO FACTORY AND ENJOY CRAFTING


The Sapporo Factory was where Japan's first beer brewery was located, until it moved premises, and turned into a shopping complex. Part of the original brewery still exists and can be seen in the beer hall. But the reason I like this shopping mall so much is because one whole part of the building is dedicated to local handicraft shops with lessons you can book in advance. Looking over various brochures we saw lessons for leatherwork to make your own wallet, glasswork, clay work, wine tasting and photography classes. We thought it would be fun to spend an hour or two making our own clay sculpture souvenir. It was the first time I ever made something with clay so I was so proud of my creation.

sapporo factory shopping centre
sapporo factory crafting clay
sapporo factory crafting clay


#06 | TAKE THE MT MOIWA ROPE CAR AND SEE SAPPORO FROM ABOVE


Mt Moiwa is a little journey outside of the city centre, but not so far. To get to the top, you must take 2 ropeways. The first one takes you to a transfer station with a large souvenir shop where you can buy souvenirs of the Sapporo specialty. Then you take a second rope car all the way to the top to get a spectacular panorama of the whole city. At the top there is also a restaurant, theatre and planetarium. The round trip is a bit pricey at ¥1700, but in Sapporo, I think this attraction is a must do.

sapporo mt moiwa vista panorama at night
sapporo mt moiwa vista panorama at night group photo


#07 | ENTER THE MAGICAL LAND OF SHIROI KOIBITO


Shiroi Koibito is a biscuit loved all over Japan, native to Sapporo, made right here in the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. The Shiroi Koibito Park takes you to a wonderland that is as sweet as the biscuit itself. There is both a free part and a paid part of the park. We decided to only visit the free part since we were already having a lot of fun. There are many cute and wonderful exhibits like the one below that take you back to a place in your childhood. It reminded me of a Willy Wonka movie set. In the main part of the building there is a toy museum, cafe, shop and restaurant. If you decide to pay ¥600 you can also see a few other chocolate themed exhibits and the cookie making process.

shiroi koibito sapporo fun park wonderland


#08 | CULTURE YOURSELF IN THE FORMER HOKKAIDO GOVERNMENT BUILDING


The Former Hokkaido Government Building is a beautiful red brick building made in the 1800's. Inside there is a free museum featuring many historical exhibitions about Hokkaido. My favourite part of this property was walking along the meticulously kept gardens in front of the building. Since it's situated right in central Sapporo visiting this building is a good way to spend an hour or two stroll in the city.

hokkaido government building sapporo


#09 | IMMERSE YOURSELF IN KAITAKU NO MURA, THE HISTORIC VILLAGE OF HOKKAIDO


This place is pretty freakin' amazing and probably warrants a blog post all to itself. It is a huge open air museum featuring over 60 real size buildings from all over Hokkaido. The village is partitioned into four sections- a town, a fishing village, a mountain village and a farm village. Similar to a small village there are streets, functioning shops, houses, factories and restaurants. Inside each building we see a recreation of what Japan looked like during that time period. It even features a fully functional horse carriage which goes from one end of the village to the other. We spent over 3 hours here and still didn't see everything because they were closing.

kaitaku no mura sapporo hokkaido building view outside
kaitaku no mura sapporo hokkaido tram with horse


#10 | TAKE SOME FUNKY PHOTOS AT THE SOUSEI RIVER PARK


We woke up bright and early on our third day and decided to take a walk down Souseigawa street which divides Sapporo into the eastern and western halves. This park is full of funky cool sculptures like the ones below. There are stairs down to the river below so you can walk along the river. This street is one of the main avenues of Japan so its not hard to miss and you could probably spend an hour here as an evening stroll after dinner watching the city transform from day to night.

sapporo sousei river park fun photos with friend
sapporo sousei river park fun photos with friend

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