One of Japan's newest cities, Sapporo is a well laid-out and immensely livable metropolis located in the southwest of Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido. A perfect destination for vacationers looking to escape the crush of Tokyo, Sapporo hotels, transportation, and world class winter sports activities, make a visit to Sapporo Japan a great idea during your tour of Japan.
In 1857, at the start of the Meiji Period when the island of Hokkaido was first being developed, Sapporo Japan had a population of seven. Today Sapporo Japan is a clean and easily navigable city of 1.7 million. Sapporo is known as the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, home to the world-famous Sapporo beer, and an annual snow festival held in February.
Unlike the crush and tangle of most of Japan's cities, Sapporo was designed with foreign input and follows a North American grid system. At the heart of downtown Sapporo is Odori Park. Around Odori Park, tourists can find excellent accommodations and a number of less expensive Sapporo hotels to choose from. The Sapporo Grand Hotel is the most popular western style hotel on the island of Hokkaido, and its spacious rooms are an excellent option if you are planning an extended stay. Another gem amongst many Sapporo hotels is the Sapporo Korakuen Hotel. Located in the heart of Sapporo, the Korakuen has 305 rooms in both Western and Japanese styles. Be sure to get a room looking out upon Odori Park and Okurayama Jump Hill, the site of the 1972 Winter Olympics.
Long before it gained prominence as the host of the Winter Olympics, the island of Hokkaido was known as the birthplace of beer in Japan. Brewed in Sapporo since 1877, Sapporo Beer is one of the oldest and most popular beers in Japan. A favorite stop for tourists is the Sapporo Beer Museum. In addition to guided tours of the beer making process, the museum offers free tasting and a souvenir t-shirt or mug. When you're through with the museum tour make sure to stop by the Sapporo Beer Garten, to enjoy a Japanese version of Oktoberfest.
Along with its tasty brews, a highlight of Sapporo travel is the annual Sapporo Snow Festival held in Odori Park. The most famous winter festival in Japan, the Sapporo Snow Festival attracts people from all over the world. More than 300 large snow statues are exhibited at Odori Park, and at Makomanai and Susukino districts during the month of February. The highlight of the week-long Sapporo Snow Festival occurs each night when the ice statues are illuminated by colored lights and the whole city becomes a gleaming photo opportunity.
With daily flights from Tokyo, Sapporo travel is a painless undertaking. Getting around the island itself is also relatively easy. Hokkaido travel is a delight for the outdoor enthusiast. Hikers should head to Daisetsuzan, the island's largest national park densely populated with deer and brown bears. Another exciting outdoor Hokkaido travel option is Lake Toya (Toyako) in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. A pristine location for hiking, camping, fishing, or soaking in the hot springs, Lake Toya offers a close up look at Japan's most active volcano, Mount Usu.
So while Sapporo travel offers all the delights of big city sightseeing, Hokkaido travel offers an untracked outdoor paradise for those looking to explore Japan's wilderness areas.