The one thing that’s probably on every Pinoy’s bucket list. And I’m pretty sure that like me, you’ve asked someone going to the USA, Canada or someplace cold to bring you back some snow as pasalubong–not the shaved variety you put on the halo-halo or the ice you scrape off the freezer– I’m talking about the real stuff, 100 legit that falls from the sky and gathers into piles of slushies, which although impossible, you always ask for anyway.
Thankfully, I finally got to cross out “Play in the Snow” and a few other things off my bucket list last month as I got invited by the Sapporo City Tourism Organization to go visit their awesome city and experience why its probably going to be the new favorite destination of Pinoys who want to feel the cold white snow.
If its going to be your first time to experience winter please check out my guide here to help you prepare
Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s fifth largest city and is also one of the nation’s youngest major cities.
The word “Sapporo” derives its origin from the Ainu (indigenous people of Japan) words “Sap (Dry) – Poro (Wide),” but another theory is that it derives from “Sari (Wetland) -Poro (Wide) -Pe (River)” which describes the downstream basin of the Toyohira River.
Until the end of the Edo Period (1603–1868), Sapporo was a trading post with the Ainu and the city’s population began with just seven people in 1857. In 1869,it was renamed Hokkaido and the Hokkaido Development Commission was sent and began to establish the head office in Sapporo.
Yoshitake Shima, considered to be the pioneering father of Hokkaido, is said to have stood on the hills of Mt. Maruyama and elaborated on a plan for the city. After the railroads were built, the beer, flour milling and paper making industries began to flourish and Sapporo became the political and economic center of Hokkaido. Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there.
More than just a Winter Wonderland
In 2015, Japan welcomed 20 million tourists, mostly from China and Taiwan in 2015– thirteen million of them visited Sapporo City in the north.
This year, the Sapporo City Tourism Organization focuses its efforts to introduce their city to more Filipinos to make it as famous as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
City of Snow
A can’t-miss attraction is the Sapporo Snow Festival in February, which is one of Japan’s biggest events with millions of visitors each year.
The Sapporo Snow Festival began in 1950, when local middle and high school students exhibited
six snow sculptures at Odori Park. Today, it has become a major wintertime spectacle in
Sapporo attracting over 2 million visitors from all over Japan and abroad.
These ice sculptures large and small line Odori Park for around 1.5 km between 1-chome and 12-chome, and the statues are lit up at night. The 11-chome site is for international participants, where teams from around the world display their works.
This winter spectacle displays snow structures and ice sculptures from local and international participants. At night, they are colorfully illuminated to the delight of night-time viewes.
The Tsudome site has giant snow slides and other ways to have fun in the snow, while the Susukino venue features an ice sculpture contest, an ice bar, and colorful lighting for night-time viewing. Large blocks of snow will be carved into snow sculptures over the course of one month before the event opens—impressive for their scale as well as the sculptors’ attention to detail
With its reputation as a world-class ski-resort destination, having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972, Sapporo is also an ideal place for winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. It also boasts of outdoor hot springs where you can soak your body while surrounded by Sapporo’s awesome snow scenery.
On warmer months, the city is also postcard-pretty. The cherry blossoms are as stunning as those you can see in the southern parts of Japan. The mountain trails beckon you for a climb. And even if you just walk around, you will surely behold the natural wonders of Sapporo.
“City of Food and Beer”
Hokkaido, with its thriving dry field farming, rice farming, dairy farming, and fishing industries, is a treasure trove of ingredients. Sapporo in particular is the “City of Food,” where fresh ingredients are brought in from all across Hokkaido every morning.
It is also known for its Ramen noodles, Japanese curry, sweets, “Genghis Khan” mutton and seasonal sushi. All these culinary dishes can be paired with sake or fresh flavor of Classic, a variety only found in Hokkaido, or other beers available only at the Sapporo Beer Garden.
There are numerous restaurants in Sapporo, and you can enjoy cuisine that makes full use of
Hokkaido ingredients. Sapporo and Hokkaido are synonymous with delicious taste, so much so
that tourists from both Japan and overseas, without fail, cite “food” as part of the pleasure of
staying in Sapporo.
The history of beer in Sapporo begins with the Kaitakushi Beer Brewery (the predecessor of
Sapporo Beer), established by the government in 1876. Sapporo Beer’s star logo is derived from
the “Red Star” symbol of Kaitakushi. It is also used on the clock tower and red-brick government
buildings, and can be seen as a symbol of Hokkaido’s development. If you love beer, the Sapporo beer culture will guide you through a journey where you will enjoy the city and its beers to your heart’s content: from Sapporo’s classic beer courts and beer gardens, to the fine craft beers which are gaining popularity, the tours of local beer factories where you can enjoy the taste of fresh beer, and the standard local souvenir beers.
Sapporo is in step with whatever trend is sweeping Tokyo’s fashion set and the habitues of Harajuku. The shopaholic will find her retail paradise in Tanukikoji, a shopping arcade that has been in operation since the frontier period. Tanukikoji is an approximately 1km-long arcade with around 200 shops that runs east to west in downtown Sapporo. It’s also a great place to buy Hokkaido souvenirs.
Just like Kyoto, Sapporo is known for its functional grid of streets and avenues, making it more
convenient for visitors, whether families or solo travellers, to move around and explore the city and its environs. The residents are courteous, well-educated and disciplined. Thus, Sapporo prides itself in its clean surroundings and sustainable way of living.
Check out our Facebook album for more photos of SapporoSapporo is as cosmopolitan as any first-class city. Five-star hotels, apartment hotels and affordable inns are all over the city at rates that whole families or solo travellers will enjoy. You can stay at a place that is nearest to the tourist spots you wish to visit. Transportation and traffic is smooth that there won’t be a problem getting to your desired location.
Check back real soon as I share to you the top sites to visit in Sapporo. Meanwhile, please watch this video to learn more about this beautiful place.