Sap­poro Clas­sic



In the win­ter, the city of Sap­poro’s streets are per­ma­nently snow-packed, a tes­ta­ment to win­ter’s strength in Hokkaido. Luck­ily, you don’t need to ven­ture far from the train sta­tion on the many heated side­walks to find lodg­ing and food suit­able for all bud­gets, but the fur­ther you get, the more au­then­tic the ex­pe­ri­ence be­comes.

Dur­ing the day, it’s easy to sense the nearby sea, mostly be­cause of the rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity and the bone-chill­ing cold. Ar­rive pre­pared with a trusted puffy jacket and a wa­ter­proof shell. Slip­ping into a restau­rant or the Sap­poro Beer Gar­den is also a great way to warm up and en­joy the ameni­ties of a mod­ern Ja­panese city, or nip into one of the nu­mer­ous wellpol­ished ho­tels with sen­tos— or Ja­panese spas—in the base­ment.

The city shines bright­est at night. The snow-caked side­walks and streets mag­nify the glow from the karaoke bars and clubs, while street lan­terns and string lights il­lu­mi­nate nar­row streets lined with ra­men bars and con­ve­nience stores. If you plan on head­ing in to an au­then­tic restau­rant, make sure your shoes are easy to slip on and off, as slip­pered din­ing is de­rigueur at most es­tab­lish­ments.

Sap­poro ex­pe­ri­enced a large earth­quake dur­ing the sum­mer of 2018, which left most of the nearby ski ar­eas un­scathed but did some dam­age to the city and its sur­rounds. Of­fi­cials with­drew Sap­poro’s bid for host­ing the 2026 Win­ter Olympics to fo­cus on re­cov­ery, but they plan to bid again for the games in 2030. Most of the city is still vi­brant and un­harmed by the quake, and af­ter a dip in tourism this sum­mer, res­i­dents will be more wel­com­ing than ever to vis­i­tors in the near fu­ture. Go see for your­self.

Top: An­ime and pow­der in down­town Sap­poro. Right: Tast­ing room at the Sap­poro Beer Gar­den.

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