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att. Travel - Sapporo
att. Travel - Sapporo
You are here: att.JAPAN > Travel Guide > Sapporo
att.JAPAN Issue 20, January 2005

Sapporo

MapWinter Romance - Snow, Festivals, Ski and Hot springs

Sapporo is Japan's fifth largest city and the largest in the area to the north of Tokyo. During the Meiji period, the Japanese government, eager to fortify its northern defenses, established the Kaitakushi (Development Commission) to develop the then unknown island of Hokkaido. A beautiful town was created with streets that crossed at 90 degree angles and in under 130 years Sapporo now finds itself developed into a major metropolis.

With a population of 1.85 million it is Hokkaido's political, economic, cultural and transportation hub.

The Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo in 1972 and with many facilities for skiing, skating and other winter sports, Sapporo is a most attractive town for winter sports fans to visit.

 Festivals in Sapporo
Sapporo Snow Festival The main event-cum-festival of Hokkaido each winter is the annual "Sapporo Snow Festival." The next and 56th Sapporo Snow Festival will be held from Monday February 7th to Sunday February 13th 2005. Hundreds of beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures will line Odori Park and other sites throughout the city.

February is the coldest month of the year in Hokkaido with an average monthly temperature in February 2004 in Sapporo of a chilly 1.3 degrees Celsius below zero, an average high temperature of barely 5.7 degrees and a low of 9.2 degrees below zero. Being this cold, winter clothes are a must for visitors and locals alike and as it is difficult to walk on the frozen sidewalks without appropriate shoes, "Suberi-dome," or nonslip devices to keep you upright when nothing seems to grip are recommended buys at the shops in the JR and the subway stations, department stores or other stores. Made of rubber or plastic they go for about 1000 yen a pair.

The festival itself, which began in 1950 when local senior high school students made six snow statues in Odori Park, is now held in three places; Odori Park, Susukino, and Makomanai. The Japan Self-Defense Forces, Sapporo citizens' groups and various foreign groups all participate in the contest of building statues with their works being started on from around January 20th.

The Odori Site can be seen anytime and statues are illuminated until 10 pm each evening while the Makomanai Site can be viewed from 9 am to 4:30 pm daily and the entertainment district Susukino Site can be seen anytime day or night as its ice sculptures are all lit-up until 1 am.

 White Illumination
White Illumination From mid-November to early February, Sapporo also hosts the "Sapporo White Illumination." This event adds a poetic touch to a winter in Sapporo as approximately 370,000 festive lights illuminate the streets. Displays of lights shaped into lily bells and lilacs create a world of fairy tales and imagination.

 Skiing
During the severe cold spells that accompany winter, temperatures often plummet below zero and the snow tends to be of the dry variety. Such snow is usually called powder snow or aspirin snow, a type of snow the region of Hokkaido is particularly famous for.

SkiingLike many cities in Japan, people can enjoy skiing in and around the Sapporo area as there are many ski slopes with high quality snow nearby. Some ski areas can be found within 20 minutes of the city center with the furthest just 90 minutes away. Combining high-quality snow and large skiing slopes, you can comfortably enjoy skiing all day. In addition, for the novice or unequipped, most of the skiing areas provide ski rental facilities and skiing instruction.

Niseko, located a two hour drive from Sapporo, also has some good ski areas. Apres ski, a soak in a hot spring always makes for happy and relaxing times.

Sapporo Moiwayama Ski area is a 20-minute drive from the center of the city of Sapporo. So close in fact that people can see the skiers from the town and the skiers can also look down on the snow capped capital of Hokkaido.
http://www.rinyu.co.jp/moiwa/ (Japanese version only)

The Teine Highland Ski area is close to the center of the city and is usable by all ranks of skier but is particularly enjoyed by advanced skiers. Visitors can ski to their heart's content and on clear days can even look down to see the sea.
http://www.sapporo-teine.com/ (Japanese version only)

Not far away, the Teine Olympia Ski area holds the flame holder used in the Sapporo Olympics in addition to playing host to amusing downhill ski runs atop steep inclines.
http://www.sapporo-teine.com/ (Japanese version only)

Sapporo Kokusai (International) Ski area boasts long slopes coated with a high quality of snow-perfect for skiing on.
http://www.sapporo-kokusai.co.jp/

 Niseko, Rusutsu
Niseko is known as the place with the highest level of snowfall in Hokkaido and is duly proud of the high quality powder snow or aspirin snow that falls locally. It is located a 2-hour drive from Sapporo and hosts famous ski areas such as Niseko Grand HIRAFU in Kuchan-cho, Niseko Annupuri and Niseko Higashiyama in Niseko-cho and also the Rusutsu Resort along with some magnificent scenery and even hot springs to soothe aching limbs once you have finished skiing for the day.

 Watching Winter Sports
The Sapporo International Ski Marathon will be held on February 13th, 2005. Starting from the Sapporo Dome, participants can race along 4 different (length) courses, the 5km, 10km, 25km and 50km courses. Non-participants can view the skiers by Sapporo Dome at the point the participants both start and finish.

For more information, access:
http://www.sspc.or.jp/ski/eng_top.html

Winter ski jumping contests, including the large hills variety and the normal hills option, are held in Sapporo. the large hill jumps are held in the Okurayama Jump Stadium and the normal hill jumps take place in the Miyanomori Jump Stadium.

 Hot Springs
Jozankei spa town Jozankei spa town is about an hour's drive from the center of Sapporo and boasts beautiful scenery in addition to nature's gift of hot springs. It has large-scale inns, hotels and resort facilities and many of the area's hotels and inns provide spa facilities for day trippers.

Niseko also has some very good hot springs boasting a range of differences in the qualities offered by each individual spring.

 Otaru
Otaru Otaru is a "city of slopes" located 40 km northwest of Sapporo and facing the west coast of Hokkaido. A picturesque city in itself, it is surrounded on three sides by mountains with the sea at its front.

Created initially as a then vital port town during the development of Hokkaido, the waterways and chic western-style buildings that were once constructed still remain to an extent and the former warehouses along the old canals and waterways have now been transformed into museums and shops, all of course welcoming of tourists.

 Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi
Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi A rather quiet event, the 2005 version of the Otaru Yukiakari no Michi festival will be held in Otaru City from February 11th to 20th.

Handmade snow and ice candles produced locally by Otaru citizens using the cold climate to their advantage are put out and lit on the city streets. Approximately 400 further candles are also floated on the surface of the canals and are put in glass floats for use in fishing. Compared to the dynamic Sapporo Snow Festival this event is somewhat calm and poetic - an interesting way to spend an evening in the old fashioned and romantic streets of Otaru.

We will highlight some of the best places for you to visit in these areas.

 Maps
Japan Railway Map PDF 414 KB
Sapporo Station PDF 186 KB
Sapporo Subway Map PDF 132 KB

 Links
Sapporo City
Sapporo City Tourist Information
Hokkaido Prefecture

You are here: att.JAPAN > Travel Guide > Sapporo

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