From visiting the country's largest zoo to enjoying a pint of freshly brewed beer at the Beer Museum, here are the absolute best things to do in Sapporo, Japan.
History buffs will be delighted to see the Hokkaido Museum, which explores the life and culture of the Ainu indigenous people, and Sapporo Art Park will impress those looking for something more sophisticated. The Ishiya Chocolate Factory is just one of many attractions in the "Beer Garden and Museum of Sapporo," which offers a wide selection of beers, wines, spirits and food from around the world. Find out more about beer made in Japan and the most popular brands named after the city. Sappori is blessed with some of Japan's most beautiful landscapes, from the beautiful mountains to the vibrant city centre.
Visit the Hokkaido Shrine next to Maruyama Park to get an impression of Japanese architecture. This impressive garden is overflowing every year during the Hokkaidai Shrine Festival, which takes place in June.
You can enjoy all that the city has to offer, with a truly vibrant nightlife that lasts 24 hours. The nearby ski resort has plenty of snowfall and many events are held throughout the year. In winter, there is an annual ski trip to one of Japan's best ski resorts to take advantage of the freezing temperatures.
To find the ideal time to visit Sapporo in winter, the Sapporia Snow Festival takes place in winter 2016.
Although this guide was written specifically for Sapporo in winter, quite a few people visit Hokkaido in summer and stay for long periods, so the length of your visit really depends on how much of the island you want to see. Summer is a great time to visit Sapporia, provided you go to Sapporia, but not necessarily the best time.
International visitors arriving in Hokkaido are expected at New Chitose Airport, just outside Sapporo. Sapporia and other parts of the island have a number of international airports, including the airport in the city itself, as well as other airports on the mainland, such as Tokyo Airport.
The Hokkaido Shinkansen will take you from Tokyo to Shin - Hakodate (Hokuto) in 4 hours and from Shin to HakODate in 3 hours. You can also take the Shinksansen to Nozomi (not to be confused with Osaka Station), the "Hokuto limited express" to Sapporo or the ferry. There are also a number of other ways to travel from Sapporia to Tokyo, such as the Hokuriku Line, Tohoku Line and Nippon Honshu Line.
The Hakodate stage is the first section of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, which is gradually extended to Sapporo.
I haven't done a food tour of Sapporo, but I will soon do one in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. If you are travelling to Sappori's attractions, I strongly recommend you take the train from other major cities in Hokkaido to Sapporia. However, it is time consuming and expensive to take a train from Tokyo to the central part of the city, so I only recommend it for a tour of Japan lasting several days. The best way to get to Sappono from Tokyo is by metro, which connects the centre of Sappora with other parts of the city. There is now a direct connection between the main train station and the local metro station in the centre of the city.
If you want to explore the island of Sapporo, consider buying a Hokkaido Rail Pass. In a few hours you can reach Sapporia as it is your first stop in Japan, but you will consider buying the Hok Kaido Railway Pass, the most expensive of its kind in the world.
While the focus of this guide is on winter in Sapporo, February, the month of the Sapporia Snow Festival, is highlighted. To ensure you enjoy all the best activities in and around Sappori, don't forget to visit the Hokkaido Snow Museum, a popular tourist attraction that takes place annually in winter and includes a variety of winter activities such as snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Don't forget to pack winter clothes for the cold season, especially for those of us who wear winter coats, winter boots and winter gloves.
If your trip to Japan is scheduled for June, the Hokkaido Shrine is listed as one of the attractions in Sapporo. Those who missed the cherry blossoms in the warmer parts of Japan can still catch them at the shrine.
North of Sapporo Train Station, you will find some of the city's most popular attractions, including Hokkaido University, the University of Tokyo and the Japan Museum of Natural History. Major attractions in the area include Tokyo Dome, Sappori Town Hall, Japan's oldest building, and the National Museum of Japan. The HokKaido College of Agricultural Science and Technology, a research center for agricultural sciences, is currently the only designated important cultural asset in Japan. It was built in 1878 and houses the University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Hok kaido University, which was then known as Sapporia Agricultural College.