Sapporo is known to some as Japan’s largest small town, with a comfortably-urbanized city center surrounded by suburbs where people live relatively relaxed, middle-class lives. While Sapporo is not chock-full of attractions on the scale of Tokyo or Kyoto, there is still plenty of sightseeing. Many sights are clustered downtown between JR Sapporo Station and Odori Park, but others listed below are an easy urban walk regardless of the season.
154 Tours & Activities in Hokkaido
Wondering what to do in Hokkaido? Discover and book Traditional Cultural activities, Walking Tours, Winter Sports and other experiences to create unforgettable memories during your stay in Hokkaido! Tours & Activities in Hokkaido
JR Tower is a skyscraper that rises 173 meters on the east side of JR Sapporo Station. This skyscraper is part of the station building and is directly connected to that building’s other facilities. On the top floor of the skyscraper there is an observation deck which is popular for its 360-degree views over the city. Read More
If you’re ready for a twelve-block walk (it’s 1.4 kms, or about a mile long) in a park framed by skyscrapers, Odori Park awaits. Start at the Sapporo TV tower (vaguely modeled on the Eiffel Tower, which every major Japanese city seems to want to replicate) and work your way west. Depending on the season (and they are dramatically different in Hokkaido), you’ll see toddlers trying to jump in fountains, young people cuddling on dates or showing off on skateboards, middle-aged folks taking breaks from office work, and elders gumming corn on the cob and potatoes while sniffing roses and lilacs. The farther west you go, the more trees, swing-sets, and statues you’ll see, culminating in a rose garden and an old archive building with public displays of arts and crafts. If you’re too tired to walk back, hop on the local subway (Nishi 11-chome) and take the one stop back to Odori.
There’s almost always something going on at Odori. In Spring, you’ll see the Lilac Festival and the YOSAKOI So-ran dance festival. In Summer, you’ll see the joyous Beer Garden (with each block reserved for a major Japanese brewery; the foreign brews are consigned to the far south), and tipsy Sapporoites reveling outside for the short warm season. In Autumn comes the Obon Dance and booths featuring local harvested goods (with fresh delicacies from each part of Hokkaido).
Once the snow starts falling, Odori battens down its hatches, ready for the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival in early February – which takes up all twelve blocks of the park, and then some! Read More
The Former Hokkaido Government Office is a historical Western-style brick building in central Sapporo that was previously the central office for Hokkaido Prefectural Government. The building is commonly called “Akarenga Chosha” which means “Red Brick Government Office” or just “Akarenga” which simply means “Red Bricks”. Akarenga was nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1969 and is a popular sightseeing location in Sapporo. Read More
The underground passage between JR Sapporo Station and Susukino subway station (Sapporo Chikagai)
Under Odori Park are two shopping centers called “Aurora Town” (running parallel with Odori all the way to the TV Tower), and “Pole Town” (running perpendicular to Odori, south from JR Sapporo Station all the way to Susukino). Both offer pleasant shopping for Sapporoites without the bother of having to surface and brave the city’s six-month winters. In fact, you can walk the entire length underground from JR Sapporo Station to these shopping areas (and beyond) through a new passage called the Sapporo Ekimae-dori Underground Walkway (Chikaho).
All areas are worth a browse, and you will satisfy your urban wanderlust while getting your daily exercise. When you’re ready for dinner, head south to the end of the passage and surface in Susukino (Sapporo’s party district), where hundreds of restaurants and bars await your custom.
Hokkaido University (Hokkaido Daigaku)
Famous as one of Japan’s former Imperial Universities (roughly equivalent to an Ivy-League school in Japan), Hokkaido University, or Hokudai for short, has one of the nicest college campuses in Japan, where tertiary education focuses on building classrooms and facilities, not on landscaping and leafy walkways.
A reasonably short jaunt northwest from JR Sapporo Station, it’s worth a stroll for its trees and old-ish architecture, especially in Summer and Autumn. The main street runs about 6 km (nearly 4 miles) north, and there are other sights along the way.
Susukino is Sapporo’s main entertainment area, so many of Sapporo’s best restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, cinemas, karaoke parlors, and hotels are located here. The Susukino crossing intersection is famous for the bright lights of its neon signage among which is the famous Nikka Whisky sign on the Susukino building which is backlit with changing colors. Read More
Tanuki-Koji Shopping Arcade (Tanuki Koji Shouten-Gai)
A place celebrating both the weird and wonderful, the Tanuki-Koji Arcade (named after a quirky little animal that looks like a cross between a badger and a raccoon) offers kitsch, cheap eats, knock-offs, and the like for people bored with sterile shopping malls. Running south and parallel to Odori Park for seven blocks, it has been gentrified in recent years, but the farther west you walk (the arcade roof disappears after the seventh block), the more decrepit the stores become. Worth exploring for Hokkaido souvenirs and other Japanese-style whimsy.
Sapporo Clock Tower (called Sapporo Tokeidai in Japanese) is a picturesque American-style, 19th-century wooden structure in central Sapporo. It is also Sapporo’s oldest building and an essential tourist stop on your visit to this city. The Clock Tower’s history is closely tied up with the early development of Sapporo, and it is now fondly recognized as an important cultural and historical symbol of the city. Read More
Nakajima Park is a large park in the city of Sapporo which has multiple facilities and locations of cultural interest. Covering 21 hectares, the park has over 5,000 trees including elms, maples, gingkos, yews, and spruces. Cherry blossom, trailing wisteria, and roses bring color to the park throughout the seasons. Read More
Sapporo TV Tower is a TV and radio broadcasting tower with an observation deck which is located in Sapporo’s Odori Park. The tower was built in 1957 and is 147 meters high. Though the tower has shops and restaurants on its lower levels, its main attraction is the observation deck which stands over 90 meters above ground and offers fine views over the city and over Odori Park in particular. Read More
Sapporo Shiryokan is a museum of city archives housed in Sapporo’s former Court of Appeal building. Originally a court building, the Shiryokan was converted into a museum in 1973. On the first floor of the building is an exhibition room which has displays dedicated to the history of Sapporo. Read More
The Hoheikan is a historic 19th century hotel building in Sapporo’s Nakajima Park which is now maintained as a museum and event space. It is the oldest wooden hotel building in Japan, and in its glory days as a guest lodging for high-ranking officials it hosted three emperors and was famous for its Western-style banquets. The exterior of the building is distinctive for its white and “ultramarine blue” paintwork. Read More
The Seikatei is a historic wooden building located between JR Sapporo Station and the Sapporo campus of Hokkaido University. The name Seikatei literally means “Pure Flower Pavilion”. Although it is a small attraction, it can be easily added to your touring schedule if you plan to explore the nearby university grounds. Read More