Sapporo is home to about 1.96 million people, and the best way to see the city is from JR Tower Observatory T38 - the tallest building in Sapporo. Here you can also catch amazing scenery of the unspoiled virgin forests and mountains like Mt. Moiwa and Mt. Okura. One gets a distinctly different impression of the city in each of the four seasons because of it being situated far north in Hokkaido.
Here we will share how to enjoy the JR Tower Observatory T38 (Tower Three Eight), a popular place among the locals.
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View Sapporo from JR Tower Observatory T38 - the tallest building in Hokkaido
The most popular tourist attraction in any country or region is the one that overlooks the city. There are several observation decks in Sapporo, but at 38 floors and 360 meters above the ground, JR Tower Observatory T38 is the tallest building both in Sapporo and in Hokkaido overall.
In addition, as it is within the JR Tower commercial complex directly connected to JR Sapporo Station, JR Tower Observatory T38 can be accessed without setting foot outside Sapporo Station. Being so conveniently located you don't need to worry about the temperature or parking.
The JR Tower Observatory T38 opened in March 2003, the same time as the JR Tower. In addition to being written about in tourist guidebooks for foreigners, it has attracted media attention having been featured on overseas television programs and tourist information sites.
Several years ago, it also appeared in scenes of films produced in Thailand and China. In addition, for five consecutive years since 2014 it has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence by the world's largest travel review site TripAdvisor for providing excellent service.
Its popularity is evidenced by the more than 250,000 visitors it receives each year.
Get a different view from JR Tower Observatory T38 depending on where you stand!
To get to JR Tower Observatory T38, first go to the 6th floor by elevator in the Sapporo Stellar Place Center in JR Tower. Go along the information board and you will see Muji; go down the corridor on the left just before it.
Continue on and you will come out at the entrance and there you can buy an admission ticket either from a vending machine or the observation room information counter.
If you present your admission ticket where tickets are checked, you will receive a brochure in English, Korean, and Chinese (Simplified, Traditional) as well as Japanese. This brochure contains the names of buildings and mountains that can be seen from the JR Tower Observatory. Now let’s take the elevator up to the 38th floor.
The biggest attraction of JR Tower Observatory T38 is the 360° view it affords of Sapporo city. In the daytime, you can enjoy the view of the sea and mountains in the distance, and at night, you can enjoy the night view of Sapporo from all directions, which has been selected as one of the New 3 Major Japanese Night Views.
The first thing you see after getting off the elevator is the view on the north side. In the distance, you can see the Sea of Japan, one of the three seas surrounding Hokkaido. In front of the sea, white tanks in the Ishikari Bay New Port can also be seen with the naked eye.
Continue in a counterclockwise direction. Next, looking down from the windows on the west side you will see many trees. This area includes Hokkaido University and the botanical gardens, which are rich in greenery including primal forests.
The ridges of Mt. Teina, Mt. Sankaku, and Mt. Maru can be seen in the distance. Rich in nature, the seasonal views are beautiful: mountains with snow still remaining in spots in the spring, verdant greens in summer, brilliant reds and oranges covering the forests of Hokkaido University and the mountains in the fall, and snow-capped mountains in the winter.
The view in the west of the mountains gradually changing color as the sun sets is particularly beautiful.
On the south side, the broad avenues and many buildings, such as the Sapporo City Hall and Sapporo TV Tower, spread out below you. The city of Sapporo was laid out during the Meiji period in a checkerboard pattern, the streets in a grid, similar to Kyoto.
This is most obvious on the south side when the headlights on the cars at night traversing the streets clearly show the checkerboard pattern. You can also see the dazzling neon lights of Susukino, Hokkaido's largest entertainment district, in the view to the south.
Finally, the view to the east. Beyond the cityscape, the vast Ishikari plain spreads out, and you can see the Nopporo Primitive Forest that extends to Sapporo City and the adjacent city, and magnificent nature such as Mt. Yubari and Mt. Ashibetsu.
You can also see trains entering Sapporo Station from the other side along far-stretching tracks.
You can see the city of Sapporo in a slightly different way. And that is from the restrooms on the northeast side. The view from the men's room is especially breathtaking.
Events are held regularly at the JR Tower Observatory. Live piano and violin performances are held under the stars while also enjoying the night view during the Sora Concert which is held twice a month.
A cafe & bar that satisfies your stomach and heart
Tables and chairs are arranged along the large windows facing north, south, east and west, so you can enjoy the changing scenery while relaxing. On the south side is T'CAFE, which sells drinks and food you can eat and drink there while enjoying the view of Sapporo.
Waffle made with rice flour (photograph, tax-included 530 yen), which is baked after receiving an order, is served with a fruit sauce and ice cream and looks gorgeous. The Yubari Melon Frozen (photograph, tax-included S: 380 yen, M: 430 yen) using Yubari melon, which conveys the taste of summer in Hokkaido, is also popular.
In addition, there are sweets, such as handmade cakes (360 yen for individual slices and drink sets starting at 560 yen, including tax) that change with the season as well as hot sandwiches, doria, and other light dishes. In addition to coffee and tea, beer, wine, and cocktails are also served at night when the place takes on a bar-like atmosphere. I recommend enjoying the night view over a glass of your favorite beverage.
Get "Sapporo-like" items for gifts
Don't forget to get souvenirs after enjoying yourself. Next to T'CAFE, is T'SHOP which has a selection of goods having themes of Sapporo city, the railways, and original goods with the T38 logo.
The JR Tower Observatory T38 Sapporo Sweet Cookie (photograph, 594 yen including tax), its package having a photo of Sapporo's night view, and a ballpoint pen printed with the JR Tower and stars (photograph, 486 yen including tax) are popular.
The natural stone charm (photograph, 380 yen including tax) with its motif resembling snow crystals seems to be often bought by tourists who visit from areas where there isn't snow.
After returning to the sixth floor by elevator, visit the Sapporo Style Shop. Here there are products made by Sapporo-based companies and artists that have been certified by the city as "Sapporo Style" products. There are many items with snowflake motifs made from materials only available in Sapporo.
All sorts of items from skin care products to kitchen miscellaneous goods and woodworking crafts are offered here. Gifts that are certain to please include First Snowfall Paper Soap with its images of snowflakes (photograph, 1,080 yen including tax) and the Snow and Ice Candle (photograph, from 918 yen including tax).
Address: JR Tower 38F, Kita 5-jonishi 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0005
Open: 10:00 a.m. ~ 11:00 p.m. (Last admission 10:30 p.m.)
Admission: Adults 720 yen, jr. & sr. high school students 500 yen, elementary school students and children 300 yen, no charge for 3 years of age and under *as of May 2019
Closed: always open
Access: A short walk from JR Sapporo Station to the observation room entrance on the 6th floor of Sapporo Stellar Place
Text : minna no kotoba sha
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