Festivals, Points of interest & Actions • Simply One Cookbook


Go to Sapporo in winter for its snow-covered mountains and scrumptious delicacies! Take pleasure in Japan’s winter capital and its many festivals, points of interest, and actions.

View from Okurayama Ski Jump overlooking Sapporo

Sapporo, the capital metropolis of Hokkaido, is understood for its abundance of snow in the course of the winter. Snowfall can begin as early as November and final till March and generally even April! The snow transforms the northern metropolis right into a winter wonderland because the chilly climate peaks throughout January and February. 

The snow is greeted by many festivals, points of interest, and actions, which I’ll information you thru on this submit! 

The Finest Time to Go to Sapporo in Winter

From early November, you can begin seeing snow-capped mountains whereas roaming the town. It’s not till late November and early December that the snowfall begins to descend upon the town. 

In keeping with the Japan Meteorological Company, in 2023, there have been 8 inches (21cm) of snowfall in November and 22 inches (56cm) in December. As January rolls round, the snowfall drastically will increase, with 46 inches (117cm) and 60 inches (151 cm) in February. 

View from Sapporo TV Tower looking down Odori Park

If you wish to ski or snowboard, January and February are the perfect instances to go to Sapporo, however they will even be the busiest. If you wish to benefit from the common surroundings, late December, early January, and March are nice instances to go to with out being too overburdened with snow. 

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Nonetheless, there are a lot of occasions all through these months that you could be need to attend, which I’ll get into beneath.

Getting Round Sapporo in Winter

With all of the snow, it will possibly change into difficult to navigate round Sapporo. First, I like to recommend getting a superb pair of non-slip winter boots. I can’t inform you what number of instances I’ve seen folks (together with myself!) slip on the snow and ice. Belief me, it’s painful. 

Sapporo has three subway traces (the Tozai, Namboku, and Toho traces) that may take you wherever within the metropolis, so that is the best choice. Buses are available, however heavy snowfall could cause delays.

I don’t advocate driving, primarily if you’re not used to the snow, as it may be very harmful. Each automobile could have snow tires, however dropping management remains to be very straightforward. For those who do drive, go very slowly, brake sooner than you assume, and in pauses, not in a single go. For those who brake closely, the automobile will skid, and you’ll lose management. There will probably be tractors that clear the snow all through the day to make the roads clear, however there’ll nonetheless be numerous snow and ice round. Please take additional warning!

1. Winter Sports activities

For sure, essentially the most well-known exercise, Sapporo, is understood for its snowboarding and snowboarding. Ski resorts usually open throughout late November and early December 

Sapporo is blessed by unbelievable nature and local weather, good for winter sports activities lovers trying to get a bit of the powder snow. Surrounded by numerous mountains, there are quite a few mountains for guests to take pleasure in.

One of the well-liked spots is Teine, positioned on Sapporo’s west aspect. To entry it, take the Hakodate Line from Sapporo Station to Teine Station, which takes roughly quarter-hour and 340 yen a method. From Teine Station, board the quantity 70 bus to Teine Olympia Mae Bus Cease, which takes one other quarter-hour and 380 yen a method (in 2024).

Mt. Teine turned globally acknowledged in 1972 as Asia’s first Winter Olympic venue to carry an alpine ski competitors. 

The ski resort is split into the Olympia Zone and Highland Zone. The previous fits rookies and intermediates, whereas the latter is for the extra skilled, with one or two newbie slopes obtainable.

From the Highland Zone, on high of the three,356 ft (1023 m) mountain, you possibly can shred the slopes till your coronary heart’s content material with gorgeous views over Sapporo metropolis and the Ishikari Plains. There are rental gear and classes obtainable for rookies! You’ll find extra particulars on their web site right here.

Different ski resorts embody Bankei Ski Resort and Mount Moiwa, each simply accessible by public transport. Kokusai Ski Resort can be a preferred possibility for locals however is a bit more difficult to entry. 

2. Sapporo Snow Pageant

Sapporo’s most well-known occasion is the Snow Pageant, held for one week in early February. In 2024, it’s scheduled for the 4th to the eleventh.

Three websites maintain the snow competition: Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome.

Odori Park is essentially the most well-known space, because the park is stuffed with snow sculptures, together with some Japanese personalities, anime characters, and mascots. Through the night, the sculptures are illuminated till 10 pm. You can even climb Sapporo TV Tower to view the competition from above!

The Susukino web site, often known as Sapporo’s leisure district, is lined with spectacular ice sculptures that glisten amongst the neon lights. You may admire the extremely detailed sculptures and take photographs on the designated spots. There’s even an ice bar the place you possibly can choose up a drink to get you within the competition temper!

The final is the Tsudome web site, positioned northeast of Sapporo Station. It’s good for households, because the venue has snow slides, snow rafts, and extra. There may be an inside house, together with gourmand cubicles, a relaxation space, and a kids’s play space.

3. Park Christmas Illumination and Market

If there’s one factor that Japan will get proper in the course of the festive interval, it’s illuminations. From November to December twenty fifth, Odori Park is lit by spectacular illuminations that assist get you within the Christmas spirit. They began in 1981 and have change into acknowledged as one in every of Japan’s three greatest illuminations. 

Every block throughout the park has a distinct theme, from walkways of glistening lights to an enormous glowing purple flower. Within the background, the ever-present Sapporo TV Tower, with its personal illuminations, watches over the town. 

Shut by is a small Christmas market with meals stalls providing festive meals, drinks, and trinkets to take pleasure in.

Along with Odori Park, the streets and timber exterior Sapporo Station (Ekimaedori) are lined with particular illuminations till mid-February. 

4. Scorching Springs (Onsen)

What higher technique to heat up from the freezing temperatures than with an onsen? Whereas staying in Sapporo, I extremely advocate reserving a lodge with an onsen. One in all my favourite accommodations is Onsen Ryokan Yuen Sapporo, a contemporary ryokan (Japanese-style inn). The rooms are fashionable, clear, and cozy, and the onsen is wonderful! 

In case your lodge doesn’t have an onsen, there are a couple of spots you possibly can take pleasure in in the course of the day. One of the well-liked is Teine Onsen Honoka, which comes with numerous onsens, a sauna, bedrock baths, a relaxation space, and extra! It’s a unbelievable spot to spend a soothing night (or perhaps a complete day) by your self or together with your family and friends. To not point out, it’s near Teine Ski Resort so to slide in straight after a day on the slopes.

I like to recommend utilizing rotemburo (out of doors bathtub) so you possibly can benefit from the mixture of the chilly climate and heat onsen. Additionally, there’s one thing magical about bathing in an onsen with the falling snow! If you’re not accustomed to sizzling springs in Japan, try our onsen etiquette information.

5. Ice Fishing

One distinctive technique to embrace the winter chilly is to go wakasagitsuri or smelt fishing. However this isn’t odd fishing. From January to March, many rivers and lakes freeze because the temperatures drop so to fish to your smelt on high of the ice! 

Small holes are drilled by means of the ice and into the water, permitting you to make use of the small fishing rod to gather some smelt. All of the tools is supplied, and you’ll fish contained in the consolation of a tent (generally with a heater!) to maintain your self from the chilly. On the finish of the expertise, you’ll be handled with some recent smelt tempura!

I like to recommend utilizing Exercise Japan to ebook your wakasagitsuri expertise.

6. Shiroi Koibito Park Illuminations

One in all Sapporo’s most well-known, if not essentially the most, souvenirs is Shiroi Koibito – a cookie with chocolate sandwiched between langue de chat biscuits. In case you have by no means had one, I like to recommend shopping for a pack, which yow will discover at any memento store. 

Shiroi Koibito Park is open to the general public for a price of 800 yen for adults and 400 yen for youngsters aged 4-15. Infants (aged 0-3) are free to enter. To get to the manufacturing unit from Sapporo Station, take the Namboku Line on the subway to Odori Park. Then, switch to the Tozai Line to Miyanosawa Station and stroll for 10 minutes. The entire journey takes round 40 minutes and prices 290 yen a method (in 2024).

Inside, you possibly can watch because the well-known cookies are made and revel in numerous points of interest, resembling undertaking mapping and a cookie workshop, or find out about chocolate, making it a enjoyable day for {couples} and households.

Nonetheless, the actual winter magic lies exterior. From mid-November to the top of March, the interior courtyard is stuffed with round 100,000 lights that dazzle guests. Surrounded by British Tudor-esque buildings, the courtyard transforms right into a magical winter wonderland, with interactive shows that make for the last word winter expertise. 

7. Sapporo Meals

Sapporo, and Hokkaido usually, is blessed with an abundance of unbelievable meals. Irrespective of the place you go, there will probably be loads of dishes the place you possibly can benefit from the native Hokkaido delicacies.

The go-to meals to flee the winter chill is miso ramen. What’s higher than a bowl of steaming sizzling noodles wrapped in a deep, candy, and umami-packed miso broth? If that doesn’t sound scrumptious sufficient, add some melt-in-your-mouth char siu pork, and you’ve got the right meal. End your bowl of ramen off like a real native and order a aspect of rice to absorb all that remaining soup. 

horsehair crab

Because the winter season rolls round, horsehair crab comes into season. Because the identify suggests, the small crab is roofed in hair with delicate and candy flesh inside. You’ll find horsehair crab in many various izakayas, eating places, and specialised shops. You may take pleasure in it in kaisendon (seafood rice bowl) and different fish, resembling tuna, salmon, and scallops. I like to recommend Shihachi in Tanukikoji or the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market. Many individuals go to Nijo Market, however I believe it’s a vacationer lure.

Probably the most scrumptious technique to take pleasure in crab is at devoted crab eating places, resembling Kani Honke, in entrance of Sapporo Station. You may order programs (or a la carte) with numerous dishes, all utilizing crab. After all, you possibly can take pleasure in horsehair crab and different sorts, resembling king or snow crab.

8. Winter Views

There’s something magical in regards to the winter surroundings in Sapporo. The twinkling metropolis lights replicate off the snow, turning into brighter than any time of the 12 months. There are many spots all through the town the place you may get a vantage level, trying over the town, the ocean, and even the mountains to Furano within the east!

View from Okurayama Ski Jump overlooking Sapporo

Okurayama Ski Soar Stadium is my favourite spot, which frequently goes below the radar. From Maruyama Bus Station, board the Kuramaru (くらまる) bus on to the ski bounce. The Ski Soar was one of many competitors venues for the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympic Video games. You may go to the museum to study extra about its historical past.

Nonetheless, in case you take the ski raise to the observatory, you might be greeted by a view that appears down the backbone of Odori Park and the entire metropolis. 

One other well-liked spot is Mount Moiwa. Journey the cable automobile to the summit commentary deck. On a transparent day, you’ll have a panoramic view of the entire metropolis, with views of Ishikari Bay and the mountains in direction of Furano. For those who wait till nightfall, you’ll see the twinkling metropolis lights replicate off the snowy mountains, creating an evening view you’ll always remember!

9. Go to Hokkaido Jingu

On the flip of the 12 months, Japanese folks take part in an occasion often known as hatsumode. Locals go to their native shrines to make needs for the present 12 months and choose up their fortunes, often known as omikuji

In Sapporo, many go to Hokkaido Jingu (Hokkaido Shrine) below the falling snow. This 12 months, I lined up earlier than midnight to take part in hatsumode as quickly as the brand new 12 months started. You begin by making your want on the foremost shrine.

Then I picked up my omikuji and an omamori (good luck amulet) for good well being. 

Exterior the principle shrine, some meals stalls supply traditional road meals resembling takoyaki and yakisoba. 

It will get properly beneath freezing after midnight, so I warmed up with some oden!

Visiting the shrine at midnight is a uniquely Japanese expertise that I extremely advocate! There’s a particular ambiance as everybody is worked up for the approaching 12 months. Plus, who doesn’t love road meals at midnight? 

You can even go to the shrine at some other time to make your needs and choose up your omikuji and omamori. 

Subsequent to the shrine is Maruyama Park, the place you possibly can take pleasure in a soothing stroll whereas having fun with all of the snow.

10. Head Exterior the Metropolis Middle

Whereas central Sapporo has many actions to take pleasure in, don’t be afraid to enterprise additional out from the town heart. Many different distinctive landmarks exist, resembling Moerenuma Park to the east or Sapporo Artwork Park to the south. My favourite spot to take family and friends visiting Sapporo is the Hill of the Buddha – a cemetery designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando.

It’s hottest throughout summer time, because the hills are coated in lovely lavender. Nonetheless, in winter, because the snow descends upon the 13.5-meter Buddha statue, there’s a extra serene and tranquil ambiance. To get there, take the Namboku Line from Sapporo Station to Makomanai Station. Then, board the 106 bus to the Hill of the Buddha.

Otaru canal at night in winter

If you wish to head even additional out, take an hour’s practice trip from Sapporo Station to the port metropolis of Otaru. Right here, you possibly can benefit from the many glass-making actions (Otaru is legendary for glass), take pleasure in some seafood, or take within the metropolis’s cute surroundings.

Jozankei red bridge in the mountains surrounded by snow

Alternatively, head southwest to Jozankei, a sizzling spring resort, the place you possibly can soak in a few of Hokkaido’s greatest sizzling springs whereas gazing on the snowy mountains.

I extremely advocate everybody to go to Sapporo in winter as there’s a lot happening, irrespective of the month. The entire ambiance adjustments, and it funnily feels hotter as everybody will get on their favourite jacket and boots whereas warming up with unbelievable meals, gazing on the romantic surroundings, and collaborating within the many occasions.

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