All I knew about Sapporo before going there was that it gets pretty cold up there, they make good beer and it is kinda in the middle of nowhere. Oh and of course they get a lot of snow. After a short, but rather eventful trip there, I know just a little bit more, but somehow I totally fell in love with the region and reinforced my love towards snow!
First things first, a short intro. Sapporo is the biggest city of Japanese island Hokkaido. The population of the city is roughly about two million, but it feels a world away from the likes of Osaka and Tokyo. Why would you want to go there? They make excellent ramen, cheese, butter, descent whisky and glorious desserts. The city itself is a gateway to even more remote parts of Hokkaido, whether you want to go skiing or bear watching (true story) or admiring natural wonders or lavender fields in summer.
Plane route from Tokyo to Sapporo is supposed to be one of the busiest in the world, and no wonder people want to visit Hokkaido! The nature is absolutely magnificent. Anyways, Sapporo was my last stop before flying to Sydney, and me being an avid lover of all things Japanese, I decided to treat myself to four days in winter wonderland. Is there much to see in Sapporo itself? Nope, not really!! I really tried to find something exciting and interesting.. but apart from a couple of attractions, it is not really worth staying there, instead of exploring the wild.
So… on the list of attractions we have:
Sapporo Tower. Meh… a copy of Eiffel Tower, but a lot smaller. I only saw it in the evening since it gets dark pretty early, and in all honesty not even remotely tempted to go up.
Ramen Alley – now we are talking! I love ramen, and have no problem rocking up to a random small ramen shop alone where no one speaks English and trying to figure out what’s on the menu. Sapporo would be an excellent place for things like that. Although surprisingly enough there are menus available in English and staff at many eateries has a good command of English. Local speciality of Sapporo is hairy crab, which is rather pricey, so a more budget friendly option is Butter & Corn Ramen. Ramen alley has a few shops that offer local dishes, and all other sorts of noodles in delicious miso or stock broth. Exit 3 of Susukino subway station.
There is also Sapporo beer museum and a chocolate factory. I love the beer, and a local choco factory, Royce, makes excellent white chocolate.
New Chitose airport is located not too far from the city and has regular connections to small towns in the area, ski resorts and Sapporo itself. The layout is amazing. I wouldn’t say that there are many flights coming and going all the time, but facilities are very family friendly and are just amazing for an airport this size. Massive playroom, chocolate factory, ramen street, spa, cinema, lots of chill out areas and so on.
And of course, since I am a fan of all things bear… I had to check out a Bear park. It was a bit of a pain to get to and took about two hours, but seeing waving bears in the park made it worth it! The entrance fee is a bit steep, around 20 dollars but it is a fun way to spend a few hours. The place is called Noboribetsu Bear park, and as I said earlier it is not in Sapporo itself, but in Noboribetsu (a spa town). Accessible by JR or bus from Sapporo station. Almost forgot to mention what is there to see at the park! So as you get to the top of the mountain by gondola, you’ll find yourself in a bear haven! Charming (their word not mine) male and female bears, squirrel enclosure, bear museum, duck races, cafes and a nice observation point overlooking lake Kuttara. And of course a few gift shops. While you are there, there are lots of onsens to check out at most local hotels (reasonably priced).
Safe travels and more photos from ski fields to come.