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Never Knew About This Place! Foreign Residents Share 10 Memorable Spots in Sapporo

Never Knew About This Place! Foreign Residents Share 10 Memorable Spots in Sapporo

Date published: 18 May 2021
Last updated: 8 June 2021

Sapporo is one of Japan's top tourist destinations. Mention the city, and some of the more popular Sapporo sightseeing spots might come to mind! These might include Sapporo Clock Tower, Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Deck, and the site containing the ski jump used during the 1972 Olympics.

But the truth is, there are plenty of other places to explore in Sapporo that may not have always gotten mainstream attention! So what are some of these places, and what makes them attractive from the viewpoint of international visitors?

We asked four non-Japanese residents of Sapporo to share some of their favorite places to visit in Sapporo.

*Some shops and facilities may be temporarily closed or have adjusted their operating hours to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Visit their official websites for the latest information.

Table of Contents
  1. Recommendations from Katherine (American)
  2. 1. Moerenuma Park: Where nature meets art
  3. 2. Chateraise Gateaux Kingdom Sapporo: A resort hotel that specializes in Japanese hospitality
  4. Recommendations from Gregory (Singaporean)
  5. 3. Horomitoge Lavender Garden: Sapporo's own lavender wonderland with a bonus view of the city
  6. 4. Hiraoka Tree Art Center: A place to sense the natural beauty of Japan's seasons
  7. 5. Inu no Yakiimo-ya San: Baked potato shop manned by an enthusiastic Shiba Inu
  8. Recommendations from Mike (American)
  9. 6. Takino Suzuran Hillside Park: Leisurely fun all year round
  10. 7. Jozankei Onsen: Sapporo's relaxing backyard
  11. 8. Odori Park: Easily accessible, right in the middle of Sapporo!
  12. Recommendations from Karen (American)
  13. 9. Historical Village of Hokkaido: A memorable outdoor museum
  14. 10. Café COEN: A cozy place for lounging and chitchat
  15. Sapporo is an all-seasonal wonder!

Recommendations from Katherine (American)

1. Moerenuma Park: Where nature meets art

1. Moerenuma Park: Where nature meets art
Moerenuma Park is a harmonious blend of nature and art

Katherine, an American who has been in Japan for 15 years, shared some of her favorite Sapporo sightseeing spots.

"Moerenuma Park is an art park designed by Isamu Noguchi, a world-famous sculptor. Park features include a mountain, a fountain, and plenty of play facilities that weave nature and art together into a beautiful tapestry of scenic sights.

"The play pool and fountain will be opened throughout summer, so that all - young and old! - can make the most of the short Hokkaido summers by playing here to their hearts' content. One of the most prominent landmarks of the park is the glass pyramid.

"This fascinating building is more than just an art showpiece - it's also home to restaurants, galleries, and shops. All sorts of activities are held here on weekends for visitors to enjoy, from live music to dance performances, and occasionally, an art exhibition or two!"

The glass pyramid is the symbol of Moerenuma Park

This carefully crafted art park is about a 50-minute bus ride from Kanjo Dori Higashi Station on the Sapporo City Subway-Toho Line. Visitors are so impressed by the amount of work that went into the park's aesthetics that many have taken to saying that the entire park is like a sculpture in itself!

Since the park is pretty large, cycling is one of the best ways to move around within the premises, and there are bicycles here that visitors can rent for that purpose.

Go up the mountain in the park to get a panoramic view of the entire area from a vantage point as you admire how the buildings here, like the glass pyramid, blend in harmoniously with their surroundings despite their modern-looking appearances.

You'll also catch glimpses of other visitors having the time of their life at the water fountain, and their joy is frankly infectious! Stay around for the fireworks show that's held every summer as well if you want to add excitement to your visit and bring home some extra special memories of this amazing place.

2. Chateraise Gateaux Kingdom Sapporo: A resort hotel that specializes in Japanese hospitality

2. Chateraise Gateaux Kingdom Sapporo: A resort hotel that specializes in Japanese hospitality
An urban resort with an international flair! Courtesy of Chateraise Gateaux Kingdom Sapporo

Katherine: "This is a great hotel to book for your Sapporo trip. In fact, it was the first hotel I stayed in when I came to Sapporo, so it holds a lot of wonderful memories for me!

"I've gone back there for birthdays and special celebrations after that initial stay, because the staff are so friendly, the restaurant is excellent, and all the facilities here like the swimming pools, spas, and gyms are very well-maintained.

"The restaurant here serves delicious food. Absolutely try the teppanyaki (grilled meat)! You'll get to sit in front of the grill as the chef prepares your food expertly, making the whole experience not unlike watching an exciting show tailored just for you."

Have a taste of that special Japanese hospitality here! Courtesy of Chateraise Gateaux Kingdom Sapporo

Katherine also recommends taking a look at the nearby Ryokuchi Park golf course that's located along the sandbank of Barato River. This is where people will gather to enjoy the simple yet enjoyable game of park golf on well-groomed lawn grass.

A different set of activities opens up to those who come here during winter as well. What other season can you ride on snowmobiles or experience what it's like to enter a real-life igloo, after all? For the convenience of their guests, the hotel offers a shuttle bus service that goes to and fro the hotel and Sapporo Station's northern exit.

(*Check the official website for latest updates on temporary operational changes.)

Recommendations from Gregory (Singaporean)

3. Horomitoge Lavender Garden: Sapporo's own lavender wonderland with a bonus view of the city

3. Horomitoge Lavender Garden: Sapporo's own lavender wonderland with a bonus view of the city
The beautiful purple blooms against the backdrop of Sapporo City

Gregory, a Singaporean who has been in Japan for 2 years, shared some of his favorite places around Sapporo.

"Horomitoge is a mountain pass that lies in between the road connecting Sapporo's Maruyama and Bankei districts.

"People usually only use it to get to their next destination, but in July, this place is teeming with lavender blooms and becomes a really fun place to just admire the sights too!

"I would even venture to say that the lavender garden on Horomitoge can rival the beauty of the ones in Furano.

"One perk of coming here for the lavender is that you'll also get to have a bird's eye view of Sapporo City in the distance, adding to the astounding beauty of the scene. I really think everyone should come take a look and see what I mean for themselves!"

Pleasant weather abounds during early summer in Sapporo, outside of the rainy season

The garden, which is about a 10-minute drive from Maruyama Koen Station on the city subway, had humble beginnings in 1987, when 120 stalks of lavender were first planted here.

The amount has since increased to 7,000 stalks, and the sheer magnificence of the current landscape has made it one of the most well-known lavender viewing spots of the area.

The garden is being maintained by Yumekoubousatou, a building located right inside the garden. Here, you can take part in interesting experiences such as lavender pruning or buy lavender-based souvenirs like essential oils or floral water - all of which are being produced by hand in the shop itself Just follow the sweet-smelling fragrance and you'll find the building in no time at all!

  • Horomitoge Lavender Garden
    幌見峠ラベンダー園
    • Address Moerenuma Park, Higashi-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido 007-0011
    • Phone: 011-622-5167 (Yumekoubousatou)
      Period: Early to late July
      Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      Admission: Cars 500 yen (including parking fee), pedestrians enter free
      Closed: Open daily (individual facilities on garden grounds may have different rest days)

4. Hiraoka Tree Art Center: A place to sense the natural beauty of Japan's seasons

4. Hiraoka Tree Art Center: A place to sense the natural beauty of Japan's seasons
A tunnel of mesmerizing autumn leaves

Gregory: "This is a massive park on the outskirts of Sapporo City with plenty of impressive-looking trees, such as the Japanese yew and rhododendrons.

"During spring, visitors can look forward to seeing seven different species of sakura blossoms here. One of the highlights of the park is the 150-meter long nomura maple tree avenue that seems to glow bright red during the autumn season.

"The branches of the trees reach out to each other from both sides, forming a crimson canopy and transforming the pathway into a tunnel to be traversed.

"There are other sights in store during other seasons as well, so you can always find something new to see here when you visit at different times of the year."

A park that allows visitors to fully sense the changing seasons

The tree park is about a 10-minute bus ride from Oyachi Station on the city subway. It's also known affectionately by visitors as "Midream", a portmanteau of the Japanese word "midori (greenery)" and the English word, "dream", meant to describe the dreamy quality of the foliage here.

With over 2.9 hectares of land and 700 trees of 8 different species, there's bound to be something here for everyone of all ages.

Additionally, there are workshops being held here that will teach participants various horticulture skills related to gardening, pest prevention, garden tree management, and others. If outdoor isn't really your cup of tea, try one of the craft classes and create something unique out of natural materials!

Occasionally, the park also holds events and exhibitions designed to make visitors feel closer to nature and appreciate its role in our lives.

  • Hiraoka Tree Art Center
    平岡樹芸センター
    • Address 4-chome, Hiraoka, Kiyota-ku, Sapporo 004-0874
    • Phone Number 011-883-2891
    • Period: April 29 – November 3 *May be extended depending on autumn leaves season
      Hours: 8:45 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.
      Admission: Free
      Closed: Mondays (the next day if Monday falls on a holiday)

5. Inu no Yakiimo-ya San: Baked potato shop manned by an enthusiastic Shiba Inu

5. Inu no Yakiimo-ya San: Baked potato shop manned by an enthusiastic Shiba Inu
As featured on countless media articles!

Gregory: "Dogs Baked Potato Shop is a little corner store in the suburbs of Sapporo that I used to frequent.

"The best part about it is that the shopkeeper is a Shiba Inu dog. Yes, you heard that right. His name is Ken-kun and he sells baked sweet potatoes from the booth. You can also just pet him without buying anything - he likes that too!

"One can really tell how much his owner loves him from his smooth and shiny fur. So please drop by and tell him what good boy he is if you have some time.

"Do take note that there are no humans in the booth at all, so you'll have to pay with the exact amount as you won't be getting any change back!"

Renovated into a proper snack shop

In July 2020, this little booth that's about a 10-minute bus ride from Fukuzumi Station on the city subway was renovated into a proper shop.

Now, Ken-kun is in charge of hawking not just sweet potatoes but T-shirts, tote bags, and other original products based on himself as well!

Parts of the sale proceeds are donated to non-profit organizations that protect the welfare of cats and dogs, as well as orphanages. Ken-kun is working hard to do his part for society as well, so be sure to show some love for this cute canine if you're passing by!

(Ed. Note: Sadly, Ken-kun passed away on June 6, 2021; our sympathy is with his family and all the friends he made over the years.)

  • Inu no Yakiimo-ya San
    犬のだがし屋さん
    • Address 1-15-11 Kiyota 2-cho, Kiyota-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido 004-0842
    • Phone Number 080-5169-0794
    • Hours: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. for now
      Closed: Weekends

Recommendations from Mike (American)

6. Takino Suzuran Hillside Park: Leisurely fun all year round

6. Takino Suzuran Hillside Park: Leisurely fun all year round
Tulip-covered hilly field

Mike, an American who has been in Japan for 15 years, also shared some of his favorite places around Sapporo.

"I think Takino Suzuran Hillside Park is a great place for a family outing. You can enjoy some outdoor jingisukan (grilled mutton) during summer, slide down snowy cliffs on a snow tube during winter, or indulge in other activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoes - all at a very reasonable cost.

"It's a great way to get closer to nature as well. You may encounter woodpeckers and, in fact, if you're lucky, even catch a glimpse of the adorable shima enaga, a bird with fluffy white feathers and a long tail."

Winter is fun here!

The park covers an area of 400 hectares and is about a 30-minute bus ride from Makomanai Station on the city subway.

All year-round, no matter the season, visitors can enjoy beautiful flower beds, large playgrounds, three waterfalls, and a tranquil forest that's perfect for a leisurely stroll.

Many first-time visitors to the park express astonishment at there being such a huge area of untouched nature right inside the ultramodern Sapporo City itself. Perhaps you may understand their feelings too, after your visit!

Summer activities here include playgrounds, sports, automobile camps, day camps, and many others. In winter, the park transforms into Takino Snow World Family Ski Resort and offers its grounds for skiing, snow tube sliding, and other snow-based sports and activities.

The park will rent out equipment to those who need them as well, so that visitors can to drop by empty-handed if that suits their plan better!

7. Jozankei Onsen: Sapporo's relaxing backyard

7. Jozankei Onsen: Sapporo's relaxing backyard
One of Hokkaido's best hot spring areas

Mike: "I really like this hot spring area because I can eat, sleep, soak, and play all in one place. Many of the hotels in this area serve amazing food.

"Before tucking in, though, I can heal my tired body by taking a dip in one of the high-quality hot springs here. The nearby Hoheikyo Dam is a great place to admire autumn leaves when they're in season as well.

"The hiking trails around Kotengudake and Sapporodake are quite close by, too, so Jozankei is a sensible choice to use as a base of operations for sightseeing around this area. The soothing murmurs of the river streams also adds to the air of respite and relaxation here."

The finest hospitality at the finest hot spring resorts

It takes about an hour to get to Jozankei Onsen, one of Hokkaido's best hot spring resorts, by a direct bus from Sapporo Station.

The place had its modern start in 1866 when some Ainu people led Jozan Miizumi, a mountain ascetic in training to the spring source.

He then worked through a number of obstacles to build the foundations of a hot spring resort here and named the area Jozankei, which means "valley of Jozan."

Today, the streets of this area are lined with spas and hotels, and people affectionately call the resort the backyard of Sapporo - a place to sit back and unwind from the usual hustle and bustle of city life!

8. Odori Park: Easily accessible, right in the middle of Sapporo!

8. Odori Park: Easily accessible, right in the middle of Sapporo!
Exciting events are held in this central park all year round

Mike: "Events are held in this park every month for residents and tourists, from the well-known Sapporo Snow Festival to local favorites like the YOSAKOI Soran Festival, Sapporo Summer Festival, and Sapporo White Illumination.

"My personal must-see is the Sapporo Autumn Fest that's held some time between mid-September to early October every year.

"It's a large-scale food festival that's an excellent way to try out Hokkaido cuisine, as cooks and chefs of great-tasting regional Hokkaido dishes will gather together in Odori Park in booths to serve up delicious food for guests. It's so hard to pick from all the available choices!"

Different sights await you every visit

Odori Park occupies a spacious swathe of land in the center of Sapporo City, and it is a quick 10-minute walk from Odori Station on the city subway, making it very accessible to all.

There are so many things to see here - flower beds, manicured lawns, and a total of about 4,700 trees from 90 different species! Local residents love it as a place of rest and respite.

The park stretches from Nishi 1-chome all the way to Nishi 12-chome, which is roughly 1.5 kilometers, or about one mile.

Needless to say, it is the pride of Sapporo and one of its most iconic landmarks. There are five zones in the park, each with a different focus, as reflected in their names - Exchange, Oasis, Gathering, Frontier, and Flowers.

For a completely different view of the park, head up Sapporo TV Tower and glance down at it from the observation deck there. You'll see the park in its entirety with the Sea of Japan and Ishikari Plain in the background.

Recommendations from Karen (American)

9. Historical Village of Hokkaido: A memorable outdoor museum

9. Historical Village of Hokkaido: A memorable outdoor museum
The restored former railroad depot stands as its entrance

Karen, an American who's been in Japan for 30 years, shared two of her memorable places around Sapporo.

"If you're even the slightest bit into history, then you have to visit this place. It's a large outdoor museum with many relocated buildings that are culturally important to Hokkaido.

"In some parts, you'll also find reconstructed scenes of what the streets in Japan looked like during the Meiji to Taisho eras (1868 to 1926).

"When you first enter the building, you'll be welcomed by meticulously crafted wax statues that are surprisingly realistic!

"I come here often as a guide to foreign visitors, yet I seem to find something new every time. Time will pass very quickly here because of all the discoveries you'll be making!"

Horse tramway surrounded by autumn leaves

The Historical Village of Hokkaido is about 20 minutes away by bus from Shin-Sapporo Station on the city subway or JR lines.

It was opened in April 1983 in commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of Hokkaido's development, and many buildings here are historical buildings from all over Hokkaido during its pioneer era that were relocated and preserved.

The museum is divided into four main areas: town street, farming village, mountain village, and fishing village. During summer season, you'll see horse trams plying the streets, whereas in winter, the tram makes way for a snow sledge instead, creating a fun and enjoyable olden atmosphere.

Some interesting traditional cultural activities you can consider trying out here to get a better grasp of that particular time period are traditional toy-making, or how to use ancient work tools.

*Check the official website for latest updates on operational changes.

10. Café COEN: A cozy place for lounging and chitchat

10. Café COEN: A cozy place for lounging and chitchat
The cafe's lunch menu changes every month

Karen: "I met my South African husband in Japan and got married here. I'm currently running a cafe, Café COEN next to Oyachi Station on the Sapporo City Subway-Tozai Line.

We serve homemade roasted coffee, tea, chocolate, and plenty of other comfort beverages. Tasty dessert treats like chocolate cake and lime pie are on the menu as well!

The lunch menu mainly contains light food, and the food changes seasonally. We have a large table in the middle of the shop, and it's our goal to stay connected with our customers, as well as help them connect with each other, whether through Japanese or English.

Don't think of us as just a cafe with food and drinks - everyone is welcome to visit to converse and share experiences with those from outside your travel group on your trip!"

Karen greets all customers with a bright smile!

Coen, the name of the cafe, comes from the Japanese word koen, which means park or garden.

The shop space is thus designed to resemble a park-like atmosphere, where people can make healthy and wholesome connections with each other.

As you step inside and are given a friendly welcome by Karen, you'll can't help but feel like you've not come to a cozy cafe, but returned to a comfortable home instead.

Karen has been in Japan for 30 years, and her husband, 40. They'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about life in Japan and the Japanese culture from their years of firsthand experience.

  • Café COEN
    カフェ コーエン
    • Address 3-1-1 Otaniji-higashi, Ato-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido 004-0041
    • Phone Number 011-898-2692
    • Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      Closed: Holidays, Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays

Sapporo is an all-seasonal wonder!

Sapporo isn't affected by rainy seasons during summer, and even harsh winters with heavy snowfall can turn into a fun-filled day of enjoyable activities here as well with very little effort.

This means any season is a great season to come to this vibrant city and see what it has to offer. And with this handy list of recommendations compiled by longtime residents of the city as a reference, you're practically already all set!

Text by: Masakazu
*Information in this article is accurate as of April 2021. Check the official websites for latest updates.
English translation by: Huimin Pan

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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