Sapporo travel guide
The capital of Japan's northernmost island, the city of Sapporo is unique in Japan for it's blend of western elements, from the typical 18th century American city plan, to the use of meat, sausages, butter and western style brewing methods. The city is famous for it's eponymous beer and the annual snow sculpting festivals in Odori park.
Getting to Sapporo
The capital of the northern island of Hokkaido, Sapporo is notoriously difficult to get to. The most straightforward way to get to the city if you are an international traveller is to fly into one of the Tokyo airports and from there take a domestic flight to Sapporo. From New Tutosei airport, you can then take the Rapid Airport Service, a train service that connects the airport to the city with a journey time of only 37 minuntes.
Getting around the city
Subway - by far the best way to travel around the city (especially during the sub-zero winters). The city is covered by two main lines, the Namboku line (which runs from north to south) and the Toho line (which runs from east to west). Single tickets start at just 200 yen (approx £1.38) and the fare is calculated based on how far you're travelling. There is also the option to buy special tickets which allow you to switch from the subway to the buses or street cars. If you know you'll be using the subway more than once during the day, then your best bet to save money is to get a one-day travel pass, costing as little as 500 yen (approx £3.45)
Street cars - another great way of getting around the city and seeing the sights at the same time is to take the Street cars or trams. Again street car fares start at just 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for children, with one-day passes costing around 360 yen on weekends and holidays.
Taxis - taxis are also a convenient way of getting around the city, though of course you will pay a little extra for the convenience. An important thing to note is that uber is not really a thing in Japan. Aside from hailing a cab the traditional way, you can use the Japan taxi app, which will allow you to quickly and effortlessly book a taxi from anywhere in the country at any time.
Rental bikes - this kind of transport is ideal for the warmer summer months, and you'll notice the many rental bike ports around the city.
Paying for things
Cash - Japan uses the Yen as it's official currency, and this is the only currency that will be accepted in shops and restaurants. While there are many ways of paying for goods and services in Japan, cash still remains the most common way, especially when paying for things in smaller shops and businesses. For this reason, it's wise to have some cash on your person. In the larger department stores and supermarkets however, debit and credit cards are widely accepted.
ATMS - Most hole-in-the-wall style ATMs that you'll find on the streets of Japan will have a strange rules like closing after 8pm or refusing certain types of cards. Your best bet for withdrawing cash is to use the ATMs located inside convenience stores like 7/11, Lawsons and Familymart, as these are open 24/7 and will take almost every kind of debit card ever created.
Stored-value systems - Japan has a number of stored value payment systems such as the Suica and Passmo - which are similar to the London Oyster cards, but you can use them to pay for a variety of services, such as in some restaurants, parking lots and at vending machines.
Places to visit
Odori park - A beautiful green space, located at the heart of the city, Odori park is used year round as a venue for seasonal festivals and events. If you're travelling in the summer, be sure not to miss the annual Odori beer festival where you can try offerings from local breweries as well as a variety of beers from around the world. During the winter, Odori park becomes the main site for the Sapporo snow festival, where artists showcase their skills with amazing snow sculptures.
Sapporo beer museum - Housed in an old Meiji era red-bricked government building, the Sapporo beer museum is the only beer museum in Japan and celebrates the history and development of Japan's oldest beer. At the end of the paid tours, there is the option to sample the a range of beers produced by the Sapporo brewery. Be sure to pay a visit to the 'Garden Grill' where you can enjoy the famous 'Genghis Khan style' fresh barbequed lamb, washed down with crisp Sapporo draft beer.
Nijyo market - A famous public fish market in central Sapporo, Nijyo market should be top of the list for seafood lovers, and anyone wishing to experience an essential element of Hokkaido cuisine. The market is open from 07:00 to 18:00 on weekdays, and get there early to enjoy a seafood breakfast, the most popular menu item being the Uni Ikura Donburi, (salmon eggs and sea urchin on rice). Just be sure to get there are early as possible, because the good stuff tends to sell out very quickly!
If you enjoyed this article and would like more info on travel to Japan, check out our other posts on the topic.
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