Sunday, September 13, 2015

Things to do in Sapporo

executive summary by darmansjah

Sapporo Beer-En A museum and beer garden, Sapporo Beer-En is located in the original Sapporo brewery. Two tour options are possible: visitors on the short tour (30 minutes) get a takeaway goody bag with a can of beer per person and various other items; those wanting more action should take the 50-minute option, which includes a 20-minute all-you-can-drink afterwards.

The adjoining beer garden has food, a variety of beverages and serves the local grilled lamb speciality, jingus kān, which has become a popular Sapporo dish.

To get here, take the Tōhō subway to the Higashi-Kuyakusho-mae stop and take Exit 4. Head south along Higashi-Nana-Chōme-dōri to N8E8 (about 10 minutes) The large brick chimney with the distinct Sapporo trademark star is unmistakable.

By bus, take the Chūō Bus Higashi 63 and get off at the Kitahachi Higashinana (N8E7) stop in front of the building.

Hokkaidō Brewery Diehard beer fans will want to take the 40-minute train ride out to this current brewing and bottling facility, This mammoth production plant seems more like something out of a James Bond movie than a place where beer is made: technicians in white lab coats peer into test tubes; immaculate stainless-steel tanks are covered with computerised gauges and dials; and video cameras monitor the bottles as they whizz by.

The tour is self-guided and English is minimal, but you'll be rewarded with a refreshing 20 minutes to tipple at the end. Take the JR Chitose line towards the airport and get off at the Sapporo Beer Teien Station. Head away from the tracks towards the giant white silos with the Sapporo logo; the entrance is a 10-minute walk away.

Clock Tower A famous Sapporo landmark, the clocktower is about a 10-minute walk from the JR Sapporo Station or a three-minute walk from Ōdōri Station. Enter by 17:00. Visitors can look at some clocks and get a brief history of the building, which was built in 1878 and (supposedly) has never missed tolling the hour for 120 years.

It's also known as one of Japan's top three gakkari (disappointing) spots, mainly because the brochure photos often remove the urban metropolis that dwarfs the small building. You might walk right by before realising it's right in front of you.

Rāmen Yokochō This famous alleyway in the Susukino entertainment district is crammed with dozens of rāmen shops, and you'll most likely wind up here in a noble attempt to vanquish your hangover. Anyone with a yen for rāmen shouldn't miss it, but it can be difficult to find. Take the Nanboku line to Susukino and walk south to the first crossroad. Turn left (east); Rāmen Yokochō is halfway down on the right. If you can't find it just ask – it's one place people will know. Hours vary for different shops, though prices are consistently cheap, with a bowl of noodles setting you back no more than ¥1000.

Shōjin Restaurant Yō  Macrobiotic, organic and vegan fare that's attractively presented and very tasty. The shop is beautifully done with brown-paper lanterns, a sushi-style bar and Zen-style flower arrangements. To get here, take the Nanboku line and get off at Horohirabashi. Go left out of the station and veer right at the first traffic signal. The road curves, passing a park (on the right). Go straight through the next signal and turn left when you hit the next one (at the tram line); the restaurant is a few doors down on the right.

Search & Book Japan Sightseeing and Winter Adventure Tours in Hokkaido!

Hokkaidō University in 1876, this university is a scenic place, with a number of unique buildings. The Furukawa Memorial Hall and the Seikatei are noteworthy, and several campus museums are open to the public. The bust of William S Clark, the founding vice-president of the university, is a famous landmark. Upon his departure in 1877, Professor Clark famously told his students: 'Boys, be ambitious!'

Sapporo Winter Sports Museum At the foot of the awe-inspiring ski-jump (134m) used in Sapporo's Olympics, this new museum dares you not to break a sweat as you try computer-simulated challenges in hockey, cross-country skiing, speed-skating and ski-jumping. A well-done English-language audio guide takes you through a history of winter sporting and the Sapporo Winter Olympics.

You can also ride the chairlift to the top of the real jump, or hike it. The chairlift costs almost as much as the museum, and operating hours vary.

Hokudai Shokubutsuen One of Sapporo's must-sees, this beautiful outdoor garden is the botanical showpiece of Hokkaidō University. Here you'll find more than 4000 plant varietals, all attractively set on a meandering 14-hectare plot just 10 minutes on foot southwest of the station. Of particular note is the small section dedicated to Ainu wild foods and medicinal plants, though English-language signage is sadly in short supply.

Museum This clock tower was constructed in 1878 and has now become the symbol of Sapporo and a useful landmark for visitors. It's not particularly stunning, but you can wander around a small museum of local history. It's open daily (except Monday).

The clock tower was renovated in 1998, although the clock itself did not need repairs. Two generations of the Inoue family have voluntarily kept it in meticulous working order - allegedly, the clock has never missed tolling the hour in over 120 years.

Tokei-dai This clock tower was constructed in 1878 and has now become the symbol of Sapporo and a useful landmark for visitors. It's not particularly stunning, but you can wander around a small museum of local history. It's open daily (except Monday).

The clock tower was renovated in 1998, although the clock itself did not need repairs. Two generations of the Inoue family have voluntarily kept it in meticulous working order - allegedly, the clock has never missed tolling the hour in over 120 years.

Nijō Fish Market Buy a bowl of rice and select your own sashimi toppings, gawk at the fresh delicacies (some more delicate than others!), or sit down at a shop in Nijō Fish Market, one of Hokkaidō's best. Get there early for the freshest selections and the most variety; things close up by 18:00 and individual restaurants have their own hours. Sea urchin and salmon roe are favourites; as is Hokkaidō's version of 'Mother and Child' (Oyakodon), a bowl of rice topped with salmon and roe.

Hokkaidō Jingu This temple is nestled in a forest so dense that it's easy to forget that the city is just beyond the grounds. Attention has been paid to labelling the natural surroundings: a large plaque lists a number of local birds and the largest trees have identification signs. The temple lies a few blocks east of Maruyama-kōen station (exit 1).

Teine Highland Skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing can all be done near to Sapporo. The closest place is Teine, 10 minutes' train ride away. Teine has 14 lifts and is very much geared towards beginners. It's the place to ski if you're wanting to play around for a while; it's probably a disappointment for hard-core skiers, but is good for families with children. As with other skiing resorts, all equipment can be rented when you arrive.

Moiwa-yama Ropeway Panoramic views of Sapporo can be had from this scenic ropeway, which runs 1200m up the slopes of Moiwa-san. At the top is a large tourist complex where you can linger over a meal, shop for Hokkaidō-related paraphernalia or scan the cityscape with high-powered binoculars. You can easily access the ropeway by taking the tram to the Rōpuwei-iriguchi stop, and then walking west towards the hill for around 10 minutes.

Esta Fussy eaters who like to window shop should head straight to this giant restaurant floor that forms part of the Paseo Shopping Centre at JR Sapporo Station; one major path to the subway leads right through it. Listen for the singsong 'Ikagadeshou~~ka?' (Take a look?) and you'll know you've arrived.

Salmon Museum Half aquarium, half museum, the interesting salmon museum is a tribute to one of the world's most delicious fish. It's located across the street from the Sapporo Winter Sports Museum. Check out over 20 different species of salmon in varying stages of development. Salamanders, turtles and frogs are on display as well. Great place to go with kids.

500 Bar Pronounced 'gohyakubaa' this place is usually packed even on weekdays with a mix of foreign and local clientele. Every drink on the menu is ¥500, hence the name, and you can order food as well. This is one of the franchise's several locations in Sapporo, right across the street from the Susukino subway station's Nanboku line.

Hokkaidō Museum of Literature This offers viewers the opportunity to see the private side of many of Japan's famous novelists, primarily those with a Hokkaidō connection. Letters, memorabilia, books and short films all help viewers understand why these writers have earned a place in the canon of Japanese literature. English signage is limited.

Jōzankei Hot Spring Another very popular option in the area, which also has several 'foot onsen' (ashiyu) where you can soak your tired feet. To get there, take the Jozankei-bound Donan or Jōtetsu Bus and get off at the Jozankei stop. It's approximately an hour from JR Sapporo Station.

Hall Stairs Espresso Bar With matte-black paint and chain link fencing, this place feels more like an avant-garde theatre production than a place to sip a cup of joe. This smoke-filled place is about as unique as they come. Service with a snarl fits right in with the lip piercings, tattoos and day-glo hair.

King Xmhu This mammoth institution is a Susukino landmark, known for its elaborate concrete face (King Xmhu, one presumes) sculpted outside the entrance. Inside, revellers dance and drink on three floors of neon and strobe. Para-para (day-glo makeup and crazy outfits) is just the beginning.

Night Stage SHU An Okama Bar (all-male dance review) that's about as extravagant as they come. Not just for the gay and lesbian crowd, SHU is 100% chorus-line-style Japanese showbiz. A dinner and show set and an all-you-can-drink (three people or more only) discount are attractive options.

Kushidori A famous Sapporo-only chain serving a variety of yakitori (skewers of grilled chicken) and grilled vegetables, Kushidori is usually packed with boisterous college kids and 20-somethings. While there is no English menu, you can simply point at what you want, and the chef will grill it for you – choose from either tare (sauce) or shio (salt). There are locations all around the city, including one just a few blocks north of JR Sapporo Station (look for the English sign).

Blues Alley A night here can be hit or miss depending on what's happening elsewhere, but it's a good place to relax and perhaps play a game or two on the full-sized pool table...not to be confused with its famous American jazz club namesake.

Sapporo KOKUSAI Skiing Resort Sapporo KOKUSAI has five lifts, powder snow and is mainly suitable for beginner and intermediate snowboarders and skiers. It's very, very crowded, especially on the weekends, but has more of a family vibe than Niseko or Furano.

Uoisshin Uoisshin is one of several kaiten-zushi shops, places where you get to watch your food zip around the room on a conveyor belt before you eat it. Pay per plate; the waitress will count them at the end.

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