What to do in Sapporo: A Year-Round Guide

The majority of Sapporo’s visitors come in winter for the city’s famous Snow Festival. Even if your schedule doesn’t allow you to visit in winter, don’t pass up a chance to see this beautiful city.  Sapporo has a lot to offer. The historical village gives you insight into Hokkaido’s pioneering past. The iconic markets offer a chance to sample regional delicacies. Sapporo has one of the most dynamic and interesting parks in the world.

No matter what time of year you visit, Sapporo has something for you.

 

The Historical Village

What to do in Sapporo Historical Village Building

shikema / Shutterstock.com

The Historical Village is a hands-on introduction to Hokkaido’s past.

The 44-hectare open-air museum has 60 buildings. They date from the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa periods (mid-1800s to the late 1900s).

What to do in Sapporo Historical Village Farm

shikema / Shutterstock.com

The buildings represent a town, a fishing village, a farm village, and a mountain village. There are a few English signs, but most are in Japanese.

 

Year-Round Fun

What to do in Sapporo Historial Village House

shikema / Shutterstock.com

The Historical Village is open year-round. Different activities are offered each season.

In summer, you can enjoy a horse-drawn trolley ride around the village. In fall, there’s a harvest festival held at the Shinto shrine. In the winter you can take a horse-drawn sled ride.

Don’t miss the “winter life experience.” This exhibit focuses on the struggles the first settlers in the area faced. You’ll be glad you glad didn’t live in Hokkaido back then!

What to do in Sapporo Historical Village Shack

shikema / Shutterstock.com

The village is just a short bus ride from JR Shinrinkoen Station. After getting off the bus, you enter the village through the Old Sapporo Station building.

Check out this video clip of things you can see and do at the Historical Village of Hokkaido:

 

Historical Village Hours

  • May – September: 9:00am – 5:00pm (last entry at 4:30pm)
  • October – April: 9:00am – 4:30pm (last entry at 4:00pm)
  • Closed: December 29th – January 3rd and Mondays
  • When Monday is a public holiday, the village closes Tuesday

Historical Village Admission

  • Adults: 800 yen
  • College, University, and High School students: 600 yen
  • Children and Seniors: Free

 

For More Information

Historical Village of Hokkaido Homepage

 

Old Sapporo Station

What to do in Sapporo Historial Village

shikema / Shutterstock.com

This lovely building is a replica of the old Sapporo Train Station before it burned down in 1907. It’s a great way to start your visit to the Historical Village.

 

The Buildings

The beautiful period buildings come from all around Hokkaido and as far away as Kobe.

The interiors are carefully curated. You really get an idea of how the buildings were used.

For example, the Otaru Shinbun (newspaper) headquarters has an old-school printing press.

Some of the buildings have wax figures dressed in period costumes. The artifacts are so realistic they seem to jump to life.

The displays are so well crafted it will spark your imagination. History buffs will love it!

 

The Historical Museum of Hokkaido

The Historical Museum of Hokkaido is just a short walk away from the Historical Village.

It focuses on Hokkaido’s history, with a special emphasis on the people of the area. The museum starts with the first occupants of Hokkaido, the Ainu.

It goes all the way through time to the people of the post-WWII period. There’s also a heavy focus on natural history and the eco-system.

 

Museum Hours

  • May – September: 9:00am – 5:00pm (last entry at 4:30pm)
  • October – April: 9:00am – 4:30pm (last entry at 4:00pm)
  • Closed: December 29th – January 3rd and Mondays
  • When Monday is a public holiday, the village closes Tuesday

 

Historical Museum of Hokkaido Admission

  • Adults: 600 yen
  • Students: 300 yen
  • *Junior high school students, seniors (65 years and over), and people with disabilities (must show disability certificate): Free

*Need to show proof of age (student ID, driver’s license, health insurance card, ec.)

 

For More Information

Historical Museum of Hokkaido Homepage

 

Insider’s Tip

Wear comfortable shoes you can easily take off. You go in and out of quite a few buildings where you need to remove your shoes.

 

The Sapporo Clock TowerWhat to do in Sapporo Clock Tower

If you can’t make it to the Historical Village but want a taste of Hokkaido’s history, head to the Sapporo Clock Tower.

The tower was built in 1878 as part of the Sapporo Agricultural College. It was one of the earliest buildings built in Sapporo.

If you think the wooden building looks like the colonial American Midwest, you’re right. Sapporo was built with help from the American government.

The clock tower was constructed using an American design. The clock itself arrived from Boston in 1881, and it still keeps accurate time today.

The downstairs area of the clock tower is a museum. It covers the history of the Agricultural College and the development of Sapporo. The second floor has a few exhibits dedicated to the history of the clock tower, as well as an area for concerts and other gatherings.

Because of the unusual design, the clock tower is an iconic symbol of Sapporo.

 

Hours

  • 8:45am – 5:10pm (last entry at 5:00pm)
  • Closed December 31-January 3

 

Admission

200 yen

 

For More Information

Sapporo Clock Tower Homepage

 

Insider’s Tip

Do you love history or architecture? Combine a visit to the clock tower with a visit to the Former Hokkaido Government Office Building. This unique building was built in 1888 in the neo-baroque style.

 

The Food of Hokkaido

What to do in Sapporo Kaisen Don Seafood

Kaisen-Don (Seafood Sashimi Rice Bowl)

One of Hokkaido’s biggest attractions is the food. The wide pastures and bountiful fishing waters give Hokkaido an edge when it comes to food production.

 

Nijo Ichiba

What to do in Sapporo Niji Market

Niji Ichiba Market

One of Hokkaido’s most famous delicacies is the hairy crab. There’s no better place to try one than Nijo Ichiba. It’s Sapporo’s answer to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

Nijo Ichiba is a public market occupying an entire block in downtown Sapporo. The market is over a hundred years old.

It was established in the Meiji period when fishermen sold their catches here. Over time, grocers and restaurants joined the rows of fish stalls. Today the market is popular with locals and visitors alike. It’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs or sample Hokkaido’s regional specialties.

You can buy the famous Hokkaido crabs already bundled to take home. You’ll also see tons of live crabs for sale as they crawl around in fish tanks.

What to do in Sapporo Nijo Market Crab and Seafood

Niji Market Crab – tkyszk / Shutterstock.com

You can request to have crabs cooked and delivered to you on a specific date. If you don’t want to wait, go to a restaurant serving fresh crab in the narrow alleyway known as Noren Yokocho.

The area around Nijo Ichiba is home to a thriving gourmet scene. You have a host of exciting food options to choose from.

Check out the video below:

 

Hours

  • Nijo Ichiba Market: 7:00am – 6:00pm
  • Restaurants: 6:00am – 9:00pm

Note: These are general guidelines. Actual hours vary from store to store.

 

Admission

Free

 

For More Information

Nijo Ichiba

 

Insider’s Tip

Although it’s open all day, the market is busiest from 8:00am – 11:00am.

Visiting after 11:00am may not be as exciting as an earlier visit. The food stocks will be low. Visit around a mealtime, such as lunch or breakfast. Take advantage of all the delicious delicacies for sale.

 

The Sapporo Central Wholesale Market Curb MarketWhat to do in Sapporo Hairy Crab

Like Nijo Ichiba, the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market Curb Market is a great way to try the best of Hokkaido’s food.

The Curb Market sprang up around the neighboring wholesale market. The 60 stores offer everything from souvenirs to fresh food. Because of the large number of foreign visitors, many Curb

Some market staff speak English

Most of the fish stalls have restaurants attached. These places are great if you want to try fresh Hokkaido fish but don’t want to carry it home with you.

What to do in Sapporo Miso Ramen

Sapporo Miso Ramen

The Curb Market is a THE place to try Sapporo delicacies like miso ramen and soup curry. Don’t forget the Sapporo beer!

What to do in Sapporo Soup Curry

Sapporo Soup Curry

The market also has a bath-house… in case you feel a need to refresh yourself after looking at stalls and stalls of fish!

Check out this video for an insider’s look into the market:

 

Hours

  • Market: 6:00am – 5:00pm (Varies by shop)
  • Restaurants: 7:00am – 5:00pm (Varies by restaurant)

 

Admission

Free

 

For More Information

Sapporo Central Wholesale Market Curb Market

 

Insider’s Tip

The Curb Market’s dining halls are popular with office workers during the lunch hour. Avoid the restaurants during this peak time.

 

Moerenuma ParkWhat to do in Sapporo Moerenuma Park

Sapporo has many excellent parks, but Moerenuma Park is the best among them.

It’s part park, part playground, and part work of art. Moerenuma Park was designed by Japanese-American Isamu Noguchi. The park highlights Noguchi’s unique talents as an artist, sculptor, and landscape architect.

The artificial and natural elements of the park blend together perfectly. They create both striking contrasts and harmonious complements.

It’s no stale garden to be admired from carefully curated paths. You can really get up close and interact with the art.

In the summer you can play in the pools. In spring and fall, the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves draw admiring crowds. In the winter you can sled down the sizable hills.

The symbol of the park is a glass pyramid resembling that of the Louvre museum in Paris. It highlights the park’s year-round appeal. The pyramid reflects the clear blue sky in summer and the surrounding snow-scape in winter. Inside the pyramid you find a gallery, a restaurant, and a shop.

What to do in Sapporo Moerenuma Park Glass Pyramid

Moerenuma Park was designed as part of Sapporo’s greenbelt, a series of parks encircling the city. It sits on the site of a former waste-water treatment plant. It’s a triumph for conservation proponents as it boasts several eco-friendly features. For example, the air-conditioning in the glass pyramid is powered by snow.

 

Hours

7:00am – 10:00pm (last entry 9:00pm)

 

Admission

Free

 

For More Information

Moerenuma Park

 

Is Sapporo Worth Visiting?

What to do in Sapporo Moerenuma Park Stairs

Moerenuma Park Stairs

It depends.

If you love history, food, and culture, the answer is a resounding yes. You’ll find lots to make the long trek to Hokkaido worthwhile.

If you prefer a more active party scene, you might get more out of spending an extra few days in Kyoto or Tokyo instead.

 

How to Get Around

Sapporo is easier to navigate than most Japanese cities. Large-scale settlement of Hokkaido didn’t start until the Meiji period. Because of this, Sapporo was deliberately planned out.

The city is laid out in a grid pattern. The Odori Street runs east to west and Sosei-gawa (river) runs north to south.

 

CyclingWhat to do in Sapporo Getting Around by Bicycle

Outside of winter, it’s easy to get around Sapporo by bike. Cycle lanes are clearly marked to discourage motorcyclists from using them.

The city even has its own cycle sharing scheme: Porocle. You can buy a one-time, one-day, or one-month pass. The pass allows you to rent and return bikes from any Porocle port in the city.

You must be over 16 years old, have a mobile phone, and have an I.D card to register for Porocle.

 

For More Information

Porocle Homepage

You can also rent a bike from Spark Cycling. There’s a 3-day minimum rental policy.

 

For More Information

Spark Cycling Homepage

 

TrainsWhat to do in Sapporo Train Station

Trains provide the most convenient access to the airport. They’re a reliable way to get around Sapporo. Please note they run less often than in other Japanese cities. Check the timetable in advance.

Here’s a great place to check the train schedules:

Hyperdia Website

 

SubwayWhat to do in Sapporo Getting Around by Subway

Sapporo’s subway has three lines. Namboku runs north-south, Tozai runs east-west, and Toho runs from north-east to south-east. All converge at the central Odori station. Fares start at 200 yen.

On weekends and holidays, the Donichika ticket gives unlimited rides for one day for 520 yen.

On weekdays, the same ticket costs 830 yen. You can buy tickets from subway vending machines and commuter ticket counters.

For More Information

City of Sapporo Fares Homepage

 

BusesWhat to do in Sapporo Getting Around by Bus

The average bus fare is around 210 yen for an adult. Enter at the rear of the bus. Pay up front as you get off. If you’re going to use the bus a lot, consider the pre-paid transport card SAPICA.

 

StreetcarWhat to do in Sapporo Streetcar Tram

Sapporo’s streetcar has only one route, so it’s not exactly convenient for travelers. The streetcar has a flat-rate fare of 200 yen for adults.

You can buy a one-day Dosanko card on weekends and public holidays. The card gives unlimited rides to one adult and one child for 360 yen.

 

For More Information on the SAPICA & Dosanko Card

City of Sapporo Tickets Homepage

 

Taxis

What to do in Sapporo Getting Around by Taxi

Sarunyu L / Shutterstock.com

You can find taxis at designated areas near stations and department stores. You should have no trouble hailing one on the street or calling for one in advance.

Taxis are on the pricey side, but they sure are convenient. Fares vary according to the length of your trip, but the base fee starts at 650 yen.

 

What Do You Think?

Have you been to Sapporo? Would you like to go? Has anything in this article made your must-visit list? Let us know in the comments.

Share this article with your history or seafood loving friends. While you’re at it, take my advice — don’t miss the crabs! If you like seafood at all, Sapporo is a must visit!

 

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