A Beginner’s Rough Guide to Visiting Sapporo in Winter

Ramen, beer, and a highly anticipated annual snow festival make Sapporo an ideal destination during wintertime. Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido and Japan’s fifth-largest city, exudes a harmony of festive vibe and icy charms. If it’s your first time in Sapporo, don’t let the snow-clad roads and chilly temperature stop you from having fun. There are so many things you can do in the cold Sapporo weather. Here’s your guide to visiting the city in winter:



Bring Out Your Best Winter Wear

To keep yourself warm, wear layers of clothing and good winter shoes to avoid slipping on the road. You may stumble upon sandbags on the road and you can use them on slippery roads at intersections and inside public facilities.



Eat Sapporo Dishes that Will Keep You Warm

Warm Classic Sapporo Ramen
via J on Unsplash

Winter is the perfect time for you to eat crabs, which are filled with meat and have slightly sweet flavor during the season. Crabs can be savored boiled or as a hotpot dish. Oysters are also at their prime in winter – juicy, fresh, and tasty. They can be served with Japanese sake and cooked on a steamer. Wash it down with the iconic Sapporo beer. Founded in 1876, Sapporo beer is considered the oldest brand of beer in Japan. 

Warm your belly with miso, the classic Sapporo ramen. This signature bowl offers distinctive salt and soy sauce broths that will remind you of the city. Another type of soup you can sip is soup curry. The curry is mixed with watery soup. The dish is sprinkled with vegetables and meat of your choice. You can pair this up with white steamed rice.



Attend the Sapporo Snow Festival

If you’re traveling to Sapporo in February, don’t miss the 2020 Snow Festival, one of the most popular winter events in Japan. Launched in 1950, the Sapporo Snow Festival displays incredible snow and ice sculptures and is witnessed by more than two million visitors from Japan and across the world. 

The festival takes place in the Odori Site, the Susukino Site, and the Tsu Dome Site. Some of the massive snow sculptures at the Odori Site are 25 meters wide and 15 meters high, and these displays are accompanied by concerts and events. 



Visit the Historic Village of Hokkaido

Historic Village in Hokkaido
via KKday Supplier

Located in the Nopporo Forest Park outside of central Sapporo, the Historic Village of Hokkaido is an open-air museum that boasts about 60 typical buildings from all over Hokkaido that can be traced back to the Meiji and Taisho Periods. The village is divided into four sections: a town, farm village, fishing village, and a mountain village. The museum retells the history and nature of Hokkaido and features five main themes, such as Ainu culture, history, and wildlife.



Wear a Kimono While Exploring Odori Park

To fully immerse yourself in the culture of Sapporo, you can rent a traditional kimono at Mitsuki Sakura Rental Kimono Shop in Sapporo and have your hair styled. Wear makeup and traditional accessories. Explore a neighboring area and have your pictures taken, with a snow-covered village behind you.



Ride a Snowmobile

Snowmobile in Sapporo
via KKday Supplier

Ride on a snowmobile as you explore Japan’s largest snowmobile park in Sapporo. Wear your ski suits, boots, gloves, and safety equipment. Enjoy the sea of snow while being guided by professional coaches. Slide down, twist, slant, and turn on the snow with great sceneries and trees surrounding you.



Pay a Visit to the Hokkaido Shrine

The Hokkaido Shrine is one of the most celebrated Shinto shrines in Sapporo. Some say it enshrined three gods selected by Emperor Meiji to serve as deities of Hokkaido: Okunitama (god of the land), Onamuchi (god of development), and Sukunahikona (god of healing). The soul of Emperor Meiji was also enshrined later.



Try New Winter Activities

Horseback riding in snow
via KKday Supplier

Aside from horseback riding, you can go snow cruising and snow rafting in Sapporo. See the winter wonderland in North Snow Land in Chitos. Take in the stunning snowy landscape view. When you book this tour with KKday, you can relish in a shabu-shabu meal for lunch and have the chance to visit shops to buy souvenirs for your friends. 



If you are traveling across cities in Japan, like Sapporo, use JR East’s Suica Card to enjoy easy access to public transportation and purchases on shops and vending machines.



*Featured image by Danny Ryanto on Unsplash