The capital of Hokkaido, which is hosting the Olympic marathon, is a city where nature is never very far away
Sapporo is a city like no other – the wild frontier of Japan. The capital of Hokkaido is known for its marriage of modernity with the great outdoors. Here you can spend a morning in downtown museums and cafes, and an afternoon hiking in the mountains that surround the city. The perfect blend for body and mind.
Take a walk around downtown Sapporo and you’ll discover one of Japan’s most accessible cities. The old Sapporo Clock Tower and TV Tower (with its iconic observation deck) are just a couple of minutes from each other. Climb up the latter to be given one of the best views that the city can offer. Round the corner you’ll find beautiful Hokkaido University with its avenue of Ginko trees – which turn bright shades of yellow and orange come autumn.
Once you’re finished sightseeing why not spend some time in one of the city’s many green spaces? Nakajima Park is a green oasis in the heart of Sapporo’s downtown. Verdant scenery in the spring and summer give way to fiery fall colours in October, with trees surrounding a large pond and benches for relaxing. Easily accessible by public transport or on foot from the city centre, a visit is a worthwhile stop on any Sapporo itinerary.
If you want to really stretch your legs then get out of the city for a hike on Mount Maruyama, which is a short 3km subway or streetcar ride away. At 225m, the mountain is perfect for all experience levels –with climbers rewarded with an incredible view of the city from its summit – highlighting just how close the city is to nature. At the mountain’s base you’ll find the vast Maruyama Park, stretching across 70-hectares and containing more than 100 species of birds and 330 different plant varieties. It is also home to the Hokkaido Shrine, the prefecture’s tutelary shrine which is rich with the spiritual history of the region.
During this summer’s Olympic Games, Sapporo will host the marathon – which will snake its way through many of the downtown sites mentioned above, as well as Susukino, the largest entertainment district in Northern Japan; Toyohira River, famous for its salmon; and Soseigawa-dori Avenue, a 1km promenade of artwork. It will be a unique opportunity to see why Sapporo has captured the hearts of so many travellers.
To find out more about Sapporo check out ABTA’s Guide to Sapporo