Sapporo is the regional capital of Hokkaido with a population of 1.9 million and there is plenty to see and do in and around the city.
Mt. Moiwa Ropeway
We took the ropeway (cable car) to the top of Mt. Moiwa, 531 meters above sea level to enjoy a panoramic view of the city and to give my daughter the chance to touch the rapidly melting snow, something she doesn’t get to experience in Malaysia.
This spot is also popular at night and is regarded as one of the Three Most Beautiful Nightscapes of Japan along with Kobe and Nagasaki.
Otaru is a 30 minute train ride from Sapporo. Otaru was a booming trading port from the late 1800s until its decline following WWII. The town has a nostalgic feel to it with canal-side warehouses, historic buildings and old gas lamps which have helped transform it into a popular tourist destination. Many of the old warehouses and buildings have been converted into bars, restaurants, shops and museums.
Here too is a sign for the Rita Nikka Bar named after ‘The Scottish girl who married the founder of Japanese whisky’. This must refer to Rita Taketsuru (née Cowan), wife of Taketsuru Masataka, the founder of Nikka whisky. You can read an article about her here.
This century old building contains Otaru Orgel Doh, a store with over 3,400 types of music box, the largest collection in Japan. OK if you need an overdose of cuteness.
Noboribetsu is a hot spring town about 80 minutes away from Sapporo by train. Apart from the onsens the main attraction here is the Bear Park.
About 80 Ezo brown bears live in two or three enclosures here. Visitors can buy bags of tidbits and toss them into the mouths of the bears provided the greedy crows don’t catch them in mid air.
The park is reached by a 7 minute cable car ride. Apart from the bear enclosures there is a brown bear museum, an Ainu exhibition (indigenous people of Japan), a duck race and a great view overlooking Lake Kuttara.
Back in Sapporo there are a number of places to see. These include:
Maruyama Zoo is well worth a visit. We particularly liked the meerkats, the reptile house, the wolves and polar bears.
The Clock Tower was built in 1878 as a military drill hall for the Sapporo Agricultural College which, at the time, was under the leadership of Dr William S. Clark from the Massachusetts Agriculture College. It is now a museum.
Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade is one of the city’s many shopping districts.
Hokkaido Jingu Shinto Shrine is the enshrined home of a number of deities including Sukuna-Hiko-Nano-Kami or the Divine Spirit of National Administration, Medicine and Sake Brewing. That seems an odd combination to me. The adjacent Maruyama Park is one of Sapporo’s best cherry blossom viewing spots.
There was one more attraction in Sapporo that we enjoyed which I’ll write about in my next post.