Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is a great place to visit year round. In winter, it boasts winter festivals and sports that are the envy of Japan, while in summer, it’s a great place to escape the cruel humidity of the mainland.
Hokkaido itself is famous for being the largest and northern-most prefecture of Japan. The area was officially developed during the Meji Restoration (1868) and was influenced by American style and technology (with Horace Capron and William Clarke, American agriculturists, introducing scientific methods of farming and Christianity). Today, the sparsely-populated area is known for its fresh seafood and production of many agricultural resources.
For my summer vacation, I decided to take a trip to the famous (and cool) capital of Hokkaido. So I present to you: 5 Things to do in Sapporo (during summer).
1. Odori Park
Odori park is a long narrow strip that runs through the middle of Sapporo. With a TV Tower on one end and plenty of modern art and fountains, Odori park is a great place to come and relax on cool summer days. If you want to get a 360° view of Sapporo, then I recommend going up the TV tower for both day- and night-time views.
2. Sapporo Beer Museum
Home of the first brewery in Japan, Sapporo has become a famous for its namesake beer – a product that is available everywhere in Japan. Therefore, it seems only appropriate that the site of the old brewery would be turned into a museum with a delightful restaurant and beer-tasting garden.
So if you’re looking to get pissed while learning something new at the same time, then the Sapporo Beer Museum is a must-see. (Fortunately, kids can still visit the museum, although the age-limit for the beer is 20).
And if you really want to make a day of it, then you can visit the beer hall attached to the museum and enjoy eating Genghis Khan (pronounced Jingus-han) – a Mongolian-style lamb barbecue.
3. The Clock Tower (and other museums)
Sapporo also boasts plenty of other museums and historical sites. From the famous Clock Tower to the Former Hokkaido Government Office Building, there is plenty of history hidden in this city. But the most interesting thing? The fact that many of these old buildings have an obvious American influence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad – it’s just… strange… to see American-style buildings in the middle of Japan. (Although, still thoroughly interesting).
There are also plenty of other famous museums and galleries that you could go to on the outskirts of Sapporo. Including the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art and the Historical Village of Hokkaido. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time while I was there to visit these last two famous places. So if you’re an avid historian, then make sure that you schedule these two amazing places into your visit.
4. Shopping Streets
The Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade is a 1 km stretch of shops and restaurants – the perfect place if you love shopping and food. You can walk up and down this area all day long without ever seeing the same thing twice. And if you brave this street in the evening, you will find lively music and singing emitting from all types of bars and restaurants.
For those of you that might tire of this spot, then you can always visit the Nijo Seafood Market right around the corner. Here you can find the freshest crab, sushi, and fish that Japan has to offer. You see, the thing that make Sapporo cuisine famous is not only its ramen, but also its fresh seafood.
5. Mt Moiwa
If you’re an avid hiker (like me), then you will love the hike up Mt Moiwa – the famous local mountain in Sapporo. There are two ways of mounting this mountain: 1) you can take the relatively relaxing hike to the top, or 2) you can ride the rope-way and cable car. But because I’m…uh… lazy, I decided to take the quick way up and get a good look at the beautiful scenery from the top.
And the view is definitely not disappointing. From the height of 531 meters, you can get a great view of Sapporo and the surrounding wilderness. But that’s not all you get at the top of Moiwa-san. There’s also a Lover’s Bell which is normally rung by couples who reach the top, as well as a length of rail that is covered with locked lovers lockets – making Mt Moiwa a truly romantic place.
There’s even a planetarium on the peak with stunning shows every couple of minutes (although they’re all in Japanese).
So if you hate humidity, but still want to visit Japan in summer, then I would definitely recommend Sapporo. It’s a great place for history- and food-lovers alike.