Hokkaido - Travel around Sapporo by trolley as you view the nighttime scenery and snowy vistas of Odori Park and Mt. Moiwa.
北海道 - 大通公園に藻岩山の夜景、雪景色の札幌を路面電車で巡る
Sapporo city in Hokkaido is well known for the Sapporo Snow Festival featuring ranks of dynamic snow sculptures. Here, in this town full of nature colored by the seasonal landscapes and breathtaking night views, you can experience the type of events and activities only possible in snow country where the world is coated in a mantle of silvery white. Here you may also enjoy local gourmet cuisine throughout the city, with high class cafes, confectionary shops, and variety shops dispersed throughout. The most efficient way to get around this bounty of opportunities for enjoyment is make full use of the convenient Sapporo Streetcar that encircles the town, from the city center to Susukino and the base of Mt. Moiwa. Enjoy your leisurely trip on the Sapporo Streetcar as you watch the countless scenes unfolding outside the window.
This streetcar running through the Sapporo city center follows a circular route in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions (some trains may stop mid route before completing a loop). To board, line up at the nearest stop and wait, and then board from the door towards the middle of the trolley when it arrives. Once onboard, announcements are made close to each stop, and passengers must press the disembarking button to inform the conductor they wish to get off there. Passengers disembark from the door at the front of the train in the direction of travel. The fee is fixed irrespective of the distance traveled at 170 Yen for adults and 90 Yen for children (scheduled for revision in 2017), and the fee is inserted into the fare box next to the conductor before disembarking. While it is possible to exchange 1,000 Yen notes for coins onboard, this is difficult to do in practice when the train is crowded, so we recommend making sure you have exact change before boarding. There is also a cheap and convenient one-day pass sold onboard valid on weekends, holidays, and for the year end/new year period for 310 Yen. This ticket will allow you to ride the trolley as much as you like for a full day. You can purchase the ticket from the conductor when disembarking at the first stop, and then present it to the conductor at each later stop when disembarking.
Sightseeing in Sapporo begins at Odori Park. Traversing the city center from east to west, Odori Park provides the city residents with a well deserved place of relaxation, and serves as the main venue for the Sapporo Snow Festival that is held in early February each winter. During the winter, the ground in the park is very slippery, so visitors should wear snowshoes or cleats on their shoes when taking walks. The park is also extremely crowded during the Snow Festival, so we recommend taking the opportunity for a more leisurely visit during the morning hours when it is less crowded. Also, the view over the city from the observation deck of the Sapporo TV Tower at the east end of the park cannot be missed. After enjoying your walk, take a trip around the city on the trolley. The trolley can be boarded conveniently from the Nishi Yon Chome stop in the east of the park, the Nishi Hatchome stop from the park center, and the Chuo Kuyakusho Mae stop from the west.
Ajanta Indian Curry shop
Your first destination on the trolley should without a doubt be the Ajanta Indian Curry Shop, a venerable purveyor of soup curry, considered the soul food of Sapporo. Roughly a 25 minute ride clockwise from the nearest stop to Odori Park, the restaurant is roughly a two minute walk from the Konanshogakko Mae station. The smoothly flavored soup curry makes good use of oils and spices and will surely warm you up after your walk through wintery Sapporo, and as an added benefit, you can request the chef to adjust the amount of spice and oil to your liking. *The shop is scheduled to relocate after March 2017.
After warming yourself up with a spicy lunch, come to Nakajima park for some of the activities only available in the Sapporo snow country. Nakajima Park is located roughly three minutes walk from the Nakajima Koen stop after a seven minute ride on the trolley in the counter-clockwise direction. The park is filled with greenery in spring and summer, with the colorful autumn leaves in the fall, and becomes coated in silvery white snow during winter. From January through March, you can enjoy cross country skiing in the park, and the requisite gear is available to borrow free of charge at the Nakajima Sports Center also located in the park. Other attractions in the park include the Hoheikan, a historical example of western wood architecture built in 1881, that is a popular location for taking photographs both within and without. Please take a tour of the building and take a photo to keep as a memory of your trip.
After playing in the snow surrounded by the winter scenery of Nakajima Park, board the trolley again in the counter-clockwise direction for a tour of some cafes and variety shops. Atelier Morihiko is a coffee shop popular with the locals situated near to the Chuo Kuyakusho Mae station, and its growing popularity has attracted people from many other areas in recent years. Often called a “coffee art museum” due to the antique chairs and other objects decorating the shop, visitors can enjoy home roasted coffee here that brings out the unique characteristics of the various types of coffee beans available.
Nearby the Nishi Jugochome station, one stop from Chuo Kuyakusho Mae station, you will find an eccentric apartment building called “space 1-15”. To enter this example of retro architecture, you must ring the interphone for the shop at the entrance to have them open the automatic door. You will be greeted by a surprise when you head upstairs via the elevator. Each room has been renovated and now serves as galleries and shops for writers and artists. There are over 20 shops here, starting with a cafe featuring walls filled with books and including a jewelry shop decorated in a north country motif, a boutique of clothing and socks made with natural materials, a record shop, and a direct sales shop for a cheese factory. Each shop is rich in originality, and you are likely to encounter something found nowhere else. Many of the shops are characteristically only open on weekend afternoons. Please make sure to be quiet and respectful as you visit the shops, as the apartment building is also home to normal residents.
Chocolatier Masále main store
Next, why not go for a taste of chocolate made for adults? Roughly six minutes ride counter-clockwise from the Nishi Jugochome station, the main store of Chocolatier Masále is located 10 minutes walk from Nishisen Juichijo station. This is a specialty store that is renowned among chocolate connoisseurs not only for the delicious flavors, but for the elegant and refined atmosphere as well. In addition to purchasing gifts such as baked sweets and chocolates, you can also taste the chocolate cakes and soft serve ice cream (available in some seasons) in the adjacent salon space (closed during events such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day).
Mt. Moiwa Mountaintop Observatory
After your tour of Sapporo’s cafes, confections, and variety shops, why not head towards the Mt. Moiwa Mountaintop Observatory, the best place to enjoy Sapporo’s famous nighttime cityscape selected as one of the top three in Japan. You can reach Moiwa Sanroku station by free shuttle bus from Ropeway Iriguchi station on the Sapporo Streetcar line, approximately six minutes counter-clockwise from Nishisen Juichijo station. You will arrive at the Mountaintop Observatory after switching from the ropeway to a cable car en route. Once there, you will be greeted with the majestic nighttime panorama of Sapporo city, home to a population of over 1.9 million residents, a view that will make your trip well worth the effort. Discount tickets for both the ropeway and cable car are available on the Sapporo Streetcar, so make sure to pick them up before getting off the trolley.
New Sanko Sapporo TV Tower shop
After getting your fill of the view from Mt. Moiwa, return to the nearest station and take a roughly 20 minute ride clockwise on the Sapporo Streetcar and get off at the Nishi Yon Chome stop to head back to Odori Park. We highly recommend a visit to the Sapporo TV Tower (fee required) located at the east end of the park where you can also easily enjoy the nighttime view of the city. The beautiful view from the observation deck, located approximately 90 meters from the ground, will include the sparkling city lights along the Odori Park stretching in a straight line to the west and the vibrant neon colors of downtown Susukino. Once you’ve taken in the view, head back down to the third floor of the TV Tower to the New Sanko restaurant. Here you can enjoy a plethora of unique Sapporo dishes including Genghis Khan, a Japanese mutton and vegetable dish, as well as soup curry and a rice casserole (doria) of snow crab. The restaurant also features large windows, and views of Odori Park can be enjoyed from every seat in the house. Dine to your heart’s content on the local gourmet cuisine as you sip your Sapporo Classic beer (available only in Hokkaido) and take in the evening scenery.
Sapporo is home to numerous sights and destinations that entertain with the charms of snow country, and the many flavors and creative products long loved by the local people. There are many other appealing sites to see in Sapporo in addition to the ones introduced here. Be sure to take walks during your trip to fully enjoy the abundant greenery and simple aesthetics wherever you go.