Sapporo is a city located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido. About 30% of the entire population of Hokkaido resides in this city.
Sapporo receives a large amount of snow; snow falls on 1/3 of the days in an average year. During snowy times it’s recommended you wear non-slip shoes and a warm down jacket, however there is plenty of indoor heating so you may find it more convenient to wear clothes you can easily take off and later put back on. On the other hand, the temperature during summer is fairly cool with an average of around 25℃ during August, making Sapporo a very pleasant place to visit during the summer months.
Sapporo has been the central city of Hokkaido since 1869. Hokkaido was formerly a region known as “Ezo” in which the indigenous Ainu tribe lived as hunter-gatherers. The name Sapporo comes from the Ainu language: it’s theorized to be a combination of the words “sat poro pet” which means “dry large river” or a combination of the words “sari poro pet” meaning “the reed bed is a vast river.”
When the Meiji period (1868-1912) began, the new government renamed Ezo to Hokkaido, and set out to establish Sapporo as the central region of the island. You can learn about the cultivation and development of Hokkaido at the Hokkaido Kaitaku-no-mura.
If your trip happens to be in February you can enjoy famous “Sapporo Snow Matsuri” at Odori Park. This matsuri has been held ever since 1950; it’s said that the annual festival was founded on an occasion when local middle-schoolers and high schoolers set up 6 snow sculptures in Odori Park. Nowadays the festival is Hokkaido’s largest yearly event, drawing over 2 million participants who take part in not only snow sculptures but also snowball fights and ice skating.
What should you eat in Sapporo? There’s an easy answer: ramen. Sapporo is theorized to be the birthplace of ramen, and it’s also thought the word originated here as well. Within Sapporo there are tons of places where you can enjoy and eat your fill of ramen; we recommend starting with “Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho” or the “Sapporo Ramen Republic” where you can savor the Hokkaido specialty miso ramen and other delicious dishes.
The airport nearest to Sapporo is New Chitose Airport. You can use the railways in the major cities like Tokyo or Osaka as well as overseas railways to get to Hokkaido.