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The Origin of Sapporo, a Recent City
With its checkerboard plan, straight avenues and perpendicular streets, you could imagine yourself in New York or Hong Kong. Like them, Sapporo is a colonial city founded in 1866 by the Japanese government who want o "civilize" the island of Hokkaido ... to the detriment of the Ainu, the native people of Hokkaido installed there for thousands of years.
A century and a half later, the fifth largest city in the country has two million inhabitants, and still bears the traces of colonization. In the clock tower for example, the symbol of Sapporo: a simple wooden house built by the British, where an American bell has been chiming the time since 1881; the charming red brick of the former government building; or the peaceful botanical garden (only its greenhouse is worth visiting in winter).
15 minutes from the city center (by bus or subway), the Sapporo Beer Garden is the first brewery to have opened in Japan (1876). Only twenty years after the opening of the country to the rest of the world, Sapporo emergend with a Western drink that soon became the first national alcoholic beverage: beer. The brewery, a nice red brick building, topped with a red pole star has now become a museum.
Sapporo beer is still brewed locally. Sapporo is one of the three most consumed beers in the country (along with Asahi and Kirin), and you will find it absolutely everywhere
Discovery of the Susukino district in Sapporo
It flows freely, this beer, in the bars of the Susukino district .With 4,500 restaurants, this noisy and bustling district enjoys a certain reputation: it is said that to be the busiest place north of Tokyo! With its neon lights, cabarets and pachinko clubs busy every night with tipsy workers, Susukino mostly comes alive at night.
But, at decent hours, you can find good restaurants to sample the local specialties. The cold waters of the region offer the most famous crab in Japan, as well as sea urchins, scallops, and squid. The Genghis Khan (a grilled mutton dish) and Sapporo ramen (noodles in a miso broth) are the two great culinary prides of Sapporo.
Sapporo's winter in a white coat
With six months of snow and a temperature at the beginning of the year of -8°C, from November to April Sapporo lives under a thick white snowy blanket, which the city has learned to use to its advantage. The slopes of Mount Moiwa or the Niseko ski area offer skiers a long ski season, and it's no coincidence that this is where the first Winter Olympic Games in Japan were held in 1972.
In February, when there is the heaviest snowfall, the Snow Festival brings together two million visitors who come to admire the giant ice sculptures spread out in Odori Park, the streets of Susukino, and the large Tsudome stadium.
This Yuki Matsuri, organized since 1950, is a major event, and the Japanese flock from all over the country. This is, of course, the privileged period if you plan to go to Sapporo.
And to experience the hot springs in winter, the body immersed in an open-air onsen while the snow falls around you, the stations of Jozankei, Noboribetsu, or that of Mount Teine are only an hour's drive away by train.
- Read also: The best onsen in Hokkaido
What to see and do in Sapporo?
Sapporo is a city worthy of interest. The city is accessible by shinkansen from Tokyo (however 8 hours by train), covered by the JR Pass. The quickest way is, however, to get there from Tokyo by plane, with a 50-minute flight, landing at Shin-Chitose airport.
Here are the main points of interest in Sapporo:
- The Sapporo TV Tower. Address: 1 Chome Odorinishi, Chuo, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0042
- The Sapporo Beer Museum . Address: Kita 7-JoHigashi 9-chome Higashi-ku, Sapporo
- The Odôri park . Address: 7 Chome Odorinishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0042
- The Historic Village of Hokkaido . Address : 50-1Konopporo, Atsubetsu-cho, Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo-shi
- The Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art . Address: 17 Chome Kita 1 Jonishi, Chuo, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0001
- Hokkaido Jingu Shrine and Maruyama Park . Address: 474 Miyagaoka, Chuo, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0959
- The botanical garden of the University of Hokkaido . Address: 3-8, Chuo, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0003
In terms of gastronomy , the city is famous for its white chocolate (notably the Shiroi Koibito, a cookie with chocolate), but also the crab kegani, as well as the more affordable miso ramen. Hokkaido is also very famous for its dairy products (butter, creams, cheeses ...).
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