One of Japan's newest and nicest cities, Sapporo's population has grown from 7 in 1857 to nearly two million today. Being a new city, especially by Japanese standards, means it has little in the way of traditional architecture and the like of cities such as Kyoto. But what it lacks in "Japanese-ness" it makes up for with its lovely open, tree-filled boulevards to enjoy in summer and excellent snow (and facilities to cope with said snow) in the long winter.
Sapporo is Hokkaido's main transport hub.
All international and inter-island flights land at New Chitose Airport (IATA: CTS)  to the south east of the city. The route from Tokyo is the most heavily traveled in the world, with several dozen Jumbos flying daily on a variety of carriers and flights as low as ¥10000 one way if you book more than one month in advance. From the airport, Skybus  operates a door to door shuttle and the JR trains run every 15 minutes directly to Sapporo station (36-40 mins, ¥1040; reserved seats are ¥300 more expensive).
Direct international service to Sapporo is limited to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Sakhalin, Guam and seasonal flights to Australia, but both JAL and ANA provide nonstop service to Narita for intercontinental connections.
A few local flights within Hokkaido also land at the older Okadama Airport (OKD) to the north of the city.
JR trains run from Honshu to Hokkaido via the Seikan Tunnel. With a total length of 53.85 km (33.49 mi), the Seikan Tunnel is currently the world's longest railway tunnel - although in 2018 the Gotthard Base Tunnel, under construction in Switzerland, will surpass it by about 3 km. The Seikan Tunnel also claims the title of the world's longest undersea tunnel, with a 23.3 km (14.5 mi) section under the waters of the Tsugaru Straight.
The fastest way to get to Sapporo from Tokyo is 10 hours in duration, taking three trains (one Shinkansen and two Limited Express trains, connecting in Hachinohe and Hakodate). The one way fare is ¥22,470 so this option may only be of value to Japan Rail Pass holders.
Perhaps the most popular way to reach Sapporo by train, however, are on the various overnight sleeper services. These are popular, so book in advance.
Japan's most prominent - and most expensive - overnight train is the Cassiopeia (カシオペア) which runs a few times a week between Ueno Station in Tokyo and Sapporo. The one-way trip takes about 16 1/2 hours. The less expensive and more frequent Hokutosei (北斗星) also runs daily from Ueno.
The daily and less expensive Nihonkai (日本海) runs daily from Osaka and Kyoto to Aomori, from which two connecting express trains bring you to Sapporo by the following afternoon. The total journey time is about 20 1/2 hours.
Note that for these sleeper trains, the Japan Rail Pass will only cover the basic fare. Pass holders will be responsible for paying for the room, as well as any limited express and other surcharges. For example, a B2 room for two people on the Hokutosei costs ¥12,600. Up to ¥6,000 in surcharges will also have to be paid, which includes a charge to travel over non-JR lines on the Ueno - Sapporo route.
A free overnight option from Tokyo to Sapporo for Japan Rail Pass holders is to take the Shinkansen to Hachinohe and a Limited Express to Aomori, then take the Hamanasu (はまなす) express train to Sapporo. The one-way ride takes just over 13 hours, with arrival in Sapporo at around 6 AM the next morning. The return trip to Tokyo takes 12 hours, owing to a faster ride on the Shinkansen.
The JR Sapporo station is at North 2, West 1 on the subway Namboku line.
Express buses connect to most points in Hokkaido. The main terminal is next to the Bus Center-Mae station of the subway Nanboku line and Toho line
Although Sapporo is located inland, there are two major ferry ports nearby: Otaru and Tomakomai. Both have scheduled car and passenger ferry service to points outside Hokkaido.
Most unusually for a Japanese city, Sapporo is logically organized thanks to its strict grid system. The main thoroughfare, the leafy Ō-Dōri (大通り、 lit. "Big Street"), runs east-west across the city and divides the city into North and South, while Sōsei-Gawa (創成川、 lit. "Creation River") divides the city into West and East, running under the main street Eki-Mae-Dōri (駅前道リ、lit. "In Front of the Train Station Road"). The address of every block in the center is thus of the type "North X West Y" (prominently signposted at all intersections), making navigation a snap. However, most businesses etc. will still provide maps to their location, building names or landmarks, because the address "North X West Y" or the like simply means that the place you are trying to find will be somewhere in the block, and blocks in the centre of the city can be quite large!
By JR train
The JR above-ground trains are reasonably priced and a good option for traveling in Sapporo and surroundings. The trains arrive and depart at specific times. You'll most likely want to take a JR train to and from New Chitose (also known as Shin-Chitose) airport.
Sapporo has three subway lines, all converging at Ōdōri station at the center of the grid. The Namboku Line ("North-South") runs north-south, the Tōzai Line ("East-West") runs along Odori west-east, and only the Tōhō Line breaks the mould by running in a C-shaped curve from northeast to southeast. Single fares cost ¥200 and up, with a choice between subway-only tickets or subway-transfer (bus and streetcar) tickets, or you can buy the oddly named With You stored value card (lowest denomination ¥1000). On weekends and public holidays, the Donichika-Kippu (ドニチカキップ, lit. "Saturday, Sunday, Holidays Ticket") allows you to travel all day, anywhere on the subway network for a bargain ¥500. On weekdays the "One-Day Card" allows the same, but costs ¥800. The "One-Day Card" isn't limited to weekends, but why pay ¥800 when a ¥500 card does the trick? That said, for ¥1000 you can buy a Bus & Subway transfer "One-Day Card" which allows travel on the entire suburban bus, subway and streetcar network, all day. For all of the above, Child tickets are usually about half of the adult fare.
A streetcar of relatively little utility to most visitors trundles around the southwestern side of Sapporo, connecting to the subway at Susukino. Its most important stops are probably the Chuo Library (Main Public Library in Sapporo) and the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway. It's most useful in winter, when walking the icy footpaths to get to the library or otherwise less-accessible south-western areas of the city becomes quite treacherous. Single-trip tickets are ¥170. They also sell a "Do-san-ko Pass" on weekends and holidays which allows you to ride all you want for a day for ¥300. Since this is less than the cost of 2 normal trips, it is usually advisable to buy this if you are going to make a round trip on an eligible day.
- Clock Tower (時計台 Tokeidai), close to Odori station. This rather diminutive building has become a symbol of Sapporo, mostly by being the oldest building still standing. It was constructed in 1878 for the Sapporo Agricultural College (now the Hokkaido University) and would not look out of place in Smalltown USA. 200 yen for entry, the inside has a small retrospective of its history. However, visitor beware, this is for some reason a mecca for Japanese tourists coming to Sapporo who feel that no trip to Sapporo would be complete without a photo in front of the Tokeidai, but was actually recently rated as Japan's third "most disappointing" tourist attraction!
- Ishiya Chocolate Factory  A 15-20 minute subway ride away from Odori park, the chocolate factory has an incredibly corny, but fun, tour building up to a view of the actual chocolate making floor, and ending with a random toy museum. Also there are two restaurants, a souvenir store, and an hourly robot show complete with annoying music. Famous for its white chocolate, which is sold under the brand "White Lovers" (白い恋人 shiroi koibito), and is only available in Hokkaido.
- Odori Park Sapporo's most famous park, it is located in the center of town and is considered to be a symbol of Sapporo. Although quite narrow (one might argue that it is a nice boulevard), the park is quite long, stretching over fifteen blocks across downtown Sapporo. Filled with (during the summer) numerous flowers, trees, and fountains, Odori Park provides a welcome respite from the maddening crowds of the surrounding city.
- Sapporo TV Tower, the eastern end of Odori, . A tourist trap carbon copy of the Eiffel Tower with an observation deck at 90m (entry ¥700).
- Sapporo Beer Museum, North 7, East 9, next to the Ario shopping center, tel. 01-1731-4368, . Run by the Sapporo Brewing Company, offers free guided tours covering the history of beer in Japan and the process of brewing. The museum is not very big and the printed descriptions on the displays are not in English. Despite this it makes an interesting diversion for an hour or so, and anyway admission is free. At the end of the tour you can "taste" all the different beers for a small fee (200 yen for a mid sized glass, or a sample of three for 400). Finish off the tour with more brews at the Beer Garden next door (see Eat). Open 9 AM to 6:00 PM, get there on the Loop 88 Factory bus line from the Odori subway station, or by walking from JR Naebo station (ask a ticket office attendant there for a map).
- Pioneer Village, A large historical village on the outskirts of Sapporo, offers a snapshot of Japan in the newly-industrialised age. The front gate (an old railway station) opens up into a series of opens alleys and buildings of the style pre-20th century. Also a variety of different gardens and shrines. Don't expect costumed performers however - everything is self guided (so a Japanese host would be advisable). Just down the road there is the 100th anniversary Memorial Park (Hyakunen Kinentou), the site of a giant (and somewhat imposing) tower which can be climbed, providing a good vantage point of Sapporo (though quite some distance from the city centre) and surrounding mountains. Admission is free, but expect to compete with school groups.
- Moiwayama, or Moiwa Mountain, overlooks the city and is especially worthwhile at night to observe the city-lights. Can be reached by cable car, or with a car, the summit (and tourist centre) can be reached directly. To reach drive there by car, a small entrance fee is required, but the lookout has free entry.
- Asahiyama Koen, (admission free) beautiful flower garden and natural parklands that overlooks the city centre. Noted for being a good place for romance, and is particularly good for cherry blossoms in spring and autumn colours, and local wildlife such as squirrels and foxes (somewhat of a feral pest around Sapporo).
- Hokkaido Shrine, (admission free).
- Jozankei, on the southern outskirts of Sapporo (but still nominally in the city), approximately 40 - 60 mins drive. This area is famous for both its onsen (due perhaps to proximity to Sapporo) and the very beautiful autumn colours (especially around the Houhaikyou Dam).
- Sapporo Snow Festival (雪祭り yuki matsuri), . Held on the first week of February, this is Sapporo's largest event. The festival is best known for the ice sculpture competition attracting artists from around the world, competing to create the largest and most elaborate artworks from ice and snow. Book accommodation early, as even a big city like Sapporo gets booked out during this major festival.
The festival is focussed on Odori Koen, in the centre of Sapporo. It consists of a combination of large-scale replicas and artistic sculptures; children-aimed attractions; and a separate section for world-wide competitors (where you can see a wide range of smaller artistic sculptures). The festival should be enjoyed both in the day - but particularly at night when the sculptures (especially the larger ones) are lit up. When the weather is warmer and there's a bit of melting, the smaller sculptures are literally remade everynight to ensure that they are in perfect condition the next day.
As befits a former Winter Olympics site, Sapporo is famous for its ski resorts, which are easily accessible by bus. Niseko, arguably Japan's top destination for powder, is two hours away by bus.
- Mt. Teine(手稲山 Teineyama). A ski mountain within easy drive from most of Sapporo. This ski mountain featured in the 1972 Winter Olympics. Offers a good mix of beginner and experienced slopes (in two distinct parks; Highlands and Olympia which have recently been connected). You can purchase a Skip (スキップ sukippu, ski + trip) ticket at any JR ticket office for roughly ¥4500 (depending on which station you start from) that includes roundtrip train tickets to JR Teine station, roundtrip bus tickets from Teine station to the ski area, and a four-hour lift ticket. At Teine station, make sure to exit at South gate #3 to find the correct bus.
For those living in Japan who have an omiyage (souvenir) obligation to fill in your Japanese office when you return from your Hokkaido holiday, the best omiyage to buy in Sapporo is the ubiquitous Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人, "White Lovers"). It is a chocolate slice sandwiched in two wafers of sweet biscuit, individually wrapped and available boxed in a range of different quantities — tasty enough, but rather bland, and few Westerners would associate the taste with Japan. The original flavour is white chocolate sandwiched in plain sweet biscuit, but there is also a dark chocolate version. It's available in every souvenir store in the city (try the Sapporo JR area or Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcade when shopping for souvenirs), and also most souvenir stores around the island.
Being a wintery kind of place for a good part of each year, Sapporo also has many stores selling all manner of snow goods. At the beginning and end of each season, many good deals on the previous year's gear can be found, often at discounts of up to 60% off, sometimes more! Also, there are several sports recycle stores in the city and suburbs where good deals on barely-used gear can be found, thanks to the Japanese fondness for having new gear every season. Ask Tourist Information to help you locate sports recycle and snow-goods stores.
Sapporo is famous for hairy crab (毛蟹 kegani), an expensive treat available at any seafood restaurant, and miso ramen (味噌ラーメン), a more affordable local variation of the ubiquitous noodle dish with miso paste added to the stock. The ramen in particular will warm you up nicely on a chilly winter day. Sapporo soup curry (just what it sounds like) is also increasingly famous.
As elsewhere in Hokkaido, you can also enjoy dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, chocolate and ice cream), seafood (especially as sushi), fruits (honeydew melon, strawberries) and meat (sausages, ham, bacon and beef).
- Aji No Tokeidai (味の時計台). A famous noodle (ramen) chain store from Sapporo, Hokkaido. Many famous people have eaten here including former Japanese prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama. They also have a chain store outside Hokkaido. Miso ramen (630yen) is the No.1 dish, but if you want something special, order the bata-kon ramen, an Hokkaido specialty made with a hearty broth of corn and butter.
- Ramen Yokochō (ラーメン横丁). Also known as Ramen Gai. This alley is chock full of ramen shops of all varieties. Get butter corn ramen, crab ramen, and even scallop ramen. Just east of Susukino Station. While many turists visit the alley, Japanese people come as well - and the experience is very enjoyable.
- Sapporo Beer Garden. At the same location as the Beer Museum is the Beer Garden, an incredibly popular Genghis Khan (mutton barbeque) restaurant. Even though the dining rooms span three large buildings, come early and expect to wait. The restaurant offers 100 minute all you can eat and all you can drink plans, as well as à la carte food and drink if you'd prefer. WARNING: you should not plan to wear your best clothes, as the atmosphere is incredibly heavy with the scents of cooking meat (plastic coats are provided - seriously)
- "Romantei" One of the most popular sweets shops. Famous for its Chocolate Mont Blanc, a delicious concoction of sponge cake, whipped cream and ganache. Other delectables include cream puffs, apple pie, and strawberry bavarian. Located at Moiwa Mountain.
- 'Hiraku 'Hokkaido oysters served in many different way, japanese and western style.
Also other japanese food available. Reasonable prices, friendly atmosphere, very popular between local and international tourists.</eat>
The drink of choice when in Sapporo is obviously Sapporo beer, and the cheapest way to get sloshed is the factory tour (see See).
Susukino (すすきの), to the south of the center, is one of Japan's largest nightlife (and red-light) districts. It has a somewhat unsavory reputation due to heavy yakuza involvement in the business, but is generally safe for travellers not actively looking for trouble. Get there on the subway Namboku line, Susukino station.
- O'Neills Irish pub, Sapporo station. An escape from Japan while you wait for your train: here you can watch baseball on the big screen, listen to U2 and eat fish and chips from photocopied(!) newspaper.
- Leibspeise - Otaru Beer(Local Brewery, German style beers), Odori West 1(Television Tower 1F), ☎ 011-252-5807, . 10~21:30. A local Brewery offering real German style beers just on the main floor of the most popular destination in Sapporo, the Odori Park Television Tower. Great All-You-Can Drink Beer Specials, only 1,800 for 2 hours! Rotisserie grill and great range of food in addition to excellent beer, Otaru Beer's Pilsner, Dunkel, Weiss, Otaru Beer's Non-Alcohol and Super Seasonal Beers.cheap.
- TK6(International people Pub), South 2 West 6(Tanuki-kouji arcade), ☎ 011 272 6665, . 16~02. Since opening in 2006 it has become the most popular pub between foreigners living in Sapporo, Australian and Japanese bi-lingual staff will welcome anybody. Worldwide beers available at cheap prices. Food * Tex Mex, Fish & chips, and beautiful home made beef burgers.cheap.
- Paul's Cafe`(tired of japanese beer ? top Belgium beer here), North 5 West 5(just next door from JR railway station in Century royal Hotel Building). 11~22. Belgium beer and rorisseri grill chicken. Waiting for your train Paul will delight you with his wonderful beer selection. Chep prices and good service.
- Wine Bar Giulio Vierci(Hokkaido Food - Real Italian Style), Chuo-Ku South 3 West 4(Silver Building 2nd FL), ☎ 011-271-5923, . M~Sa, 12:00 ~ 14:30 17:00- 24:00 L.O. 23:00. One of the only places to get authentic Italian wine and food in Sapporo. Stop by for real Italian snacks, or multi-course meals to enjoy along with wine by the glass or by the bottle. Giulio has many well-known Italian wines priced for those on a budget as well as those who would like to splurge. Wine Bar Giulio Vierci is THE place to go for those who wish to have a wonderful evening in Italy right here in Sapporo!
- Ino's Place, in Shiroishi (白石) (7 minutes from Ō-Dōri station on the Tōzai line), . Describes itself as Backpackers Hostel and is a very friendly, open and clean place offering dorm room beds for ¥3400. Slightly more expensive private rooms are available as well, as are discounts for long-term stays. Several 24h showers and a Japanese-style bath, free to use kitchen, a comfy living area and reasonably priced internet access make this one a sure winner.
- Safro Spa & Capsule Hotel, South 6 West 5 (in Susukino), . Formerly the Hokuo, this is a capsule hotel bolted on to an extensive spa complex, with separate floors for men and women. ¥4100 gets you entry into the spa and a capsule for the night, with an extra ¥500 slapped on top on weekends. You can come and go freely, but your bill must be settled before they will let you out.
- Auto Resort Takino in Sapporo's Minami-ku (南区 - South Ward). From April (~27th) until November (~3rd), there is a campground in Takino, which is ¥1000 for the site and ¥800 per person. Near the Art Park. Has all the facilities you would expect in a suburban campground, including a playground, restrooms, cooking area, water, public phones, vending machines, showers, store, laundromat. Ph. 011-594-2121. According to Outdoor Japan (www.outdoorjapan.com) "there are some beautiful waterfalls to hike around in Takino Suzuran Koen and the campsite is large and comfortable".
- Comfort Hotel Sapporo, 9 nishi (West) Minami 3jo (South), near Susukino, about 20 minutes walk from JR Station. Midrange western-style rooms; bathrooms included, Internet computer available in lobby.
- Sapporo Grand Hotel was first established in 1934 and is a historical monument in itself. Although some of the rooms are rather aged, it is a stylish hotel and is very conveniently located.
- Washington Hotel One Right next to the train station and newly remodeled as of August of 2006. Each room includes a complementry computer and internet access to use while you stay.
There are a quite few internet cafes in the city, ask at the International Plaza (in Sapporo JR or near the Clock Tower) for current information and directions.
- YahooBB Park, near Tokyu Hands and the North Streetcar Terminus has shut down. Be aware that many tourist guides and pamphlets still list it as open. It has been replaced with a suit retailer.
- Tully's Coffee, in Stellar Plaza Central (a shopping center located in the same building as the JR Sapporo station), 6th floor, has been reported to have an excellent free WiFi hotspot and a great view.
- Otaru, approximately 60 mins by car (shorter by expressway). A very pleasant small town located on the coast, and famous (within Japan) for its attractive canal which is very european in design. Also famous for its seafood, music box museum (with associated tourist shop) and glass works. Also famous for being the setting of the movie Love Letter.
- Niseko, arguably Japan's top destination for powder skiing and snowboarding, is two hours away by bus.
- The hot springs and mossy canyons of Shikotsu-Toya National Park are within easy striking distance of Sapporo.
This page was last edited at 14:36, on 21 March 2009 by Jose Ramos. Based on work by Jani Patokallio, Giulio, Peter Fitzgerald, Valtteri Päivinen and David, Wikitravel user(s) Episteme, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.