15 Things to Do Alone in Sapporo, Japan | Solo Female Travel

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The beauty of Japan is that you always get the unexpected. The country is filled with surprises at every nook and corner, and you get it when you least expect it! There are some things that are consistent everywhere you visit in Japan. Extremely polite people, beautiful scenery to last you a lifetime, and delicious food are to be found in every corner of Japan. 

The cities of Japan have their own unique characteristics. From technological marvels in Tokyo to turning back the clock in a historical and traditional city like Kyoto, you can experience everything on your trip to Japan. Or, if you are interested to know how Japan changed or didn’t change after going through some tumultuous times, head over to Hiroshima or Nagasaki. 

But if you ask me to think of a city that has almost no qualities that you would expect in a city of Japan but one that you absolutely cannot miss on your solo female trip is Sapporo.

The capital of Hokkaido prefecture, Sapporo, is unlike anything you have ever seen before. A perfect blend of the traditional and modern, the city is one of Japan’s youngest ones but the fifth most populated city. Like Hokkaido as a whole, Sapporo is known for its long winters, mild summers, festivals and events, fascinating culture, and delicious local cuisine.

How to reach Sapporo

Though the city is located in the far north of the country, Sapporo is just a 90-minute airplane ride away from the capital city of Tokyo and is one of the busiest passenger air routes in the world, and thus the city is easily reachable. 

Things to do on a solo trip

To give you a funny historical fact about Sapporo, in 1857, it had a population of only seven people! Can you believe it? Though the city has grown today by leaps and bounds, it is still quite a place where you can spend time alone without always running into a crowd. So if you are wondering what you can do during your visit to Sapporo, I am here to tell you right away.

1. Odori Park

Most of the streets in Sapporo are set in a grid pattern, and Odori Park, which runs from east to west across Sapporo, is the starting point. Odori Park is approximately 1.5kms long and is heaven during the warmer months in the city. Filled with bright flowers and some 4700 trees, this provides the best place to relax for Sapporo citizens. Take a walk, admire the fountain in the center of the park or even sit on one of the numerous benches around the park with a book in hand. This will be an ideal place to start your Sapporo journey. No wonder that this park also hosts some of the best festivals in Sapporo. So no matter when you visit the city, you will get to experience something unique.

Name of the festival

Month

Snow Festival

February 

Lilac Festival

May

Yosakoi Soran Festival

June

Odori Beer Garden,
City Jazz, Summer Festival

July, August

Autumn Festival

September

Christmas Market

November, December

2. Maruyama zoo

Well, I don’t know about you, but zoos are not always in my plan of things when visiting a place, but I was glad that I decided to give Maruyama zoo a chance. This zoo isn’t your typical one, but instead, it believes in leaving the animals in their natural habitats. Founded in June 2013, the zoo today houses 184 varieties of mammals, birds, and reptiles. You can experience the feel of being in a forest, and that is indeed something you don’t find in many zoos around the world. The major draw here is definitely the polar bear enclosure, which is reason enough to visit this zoo. The Maruyama Park, located just beside the zoo, is also one of the most famous locations for cherry blossoms in spring. 

3. Sapporo station

The main railway station of the city and the biggest transportation hub is the Sapporo station. But it’s not the trains that attract visitors here, but rather the multiple shopping centers around the station. JR Tower building is a well-known shopping arcade here, and there is an observatory on the 38th floor. It is an excellent vantage point to see downtown Sapporo on the south and the vast expanse of the sea on the north. 

4. Clock tower

Another popular tourist destination in the city, the clock tower, is actually symbolic of the history and culture of colonial times. Built in 1878, after the clock bought from Boston, was installed, the tower today serves as a museum displaying the building and the city. Marvel in the architecture of the tower while walking through it.

5. Curb market

No visit to Japan is complete without its food. But we often don’t visit the markets where the fresh produce comes from. If you are interested in it, visit Curb Market in Sapporo. Seafood heaven, you get the freshest supplies of sea urchins, crabs, salmon roe, squids, and scallops. But don’t worry, you don’t have to limit your experience to just watching seafood being bought. You can also enjoy some fresh seafood over some rice at one of the many local restaurants that you find just outside the market.

6. TV Tower

Located on one end of Odori Park, the Sapporo TV Tower was built in 1956 and is right in the center of the city. The tower bears an uncanny resemblance to Eiffel Tower in Paris, and from a height of 90m, you can see the entire Odori Park and way more. And if you happen to be in Sapporo on a bright and clear day, you can catch amazing views on your camera of the Sea of Japan. 

The tower also houses an underground shopping town named Aurora, where you can look for the perfect souvenir to carry back home. 

7. Sapporo Beer Museum

Taking a break from all the walking around in the city, pay a visit to a beer museum in Sapporo. Now isn’t that a cool thing to do? Sake is a very well-known alcoholic drink in Japan, and it is extremely traditional too, but when in Sapporo, beers are a must. The museum here is where local breweries showcase their skills in making that perfectly crafted draught beer. You can see how beer is made and even try some of them out at a small price. You can also opt for a paid tour to learn about beer making in Japan in great detail. To try out these beers with local cuisine, head over to Sapporo Beer Garden, which is a host of different restaurants inside the museum itself.        

8. Ishiya Chocolate Factory

When we were kids, our ultimate childhood dream has always been to live in a house made of chocolates, and then when we watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, that is all we could think about. In Sapporo, visit the Ishiya Chocolate Factory, and learn about everything chocolate. 

You can take a tour of the facility and also find out how they make their signature white chocolate which is called Shiroi Koibito in Japanese. You are on vacation, so it’s okay if you allow yourself to indulge in some calories. Visit the restaurant within the premises where you can eat as many cakes as you want at a cake buffet, visit a toy store to buy some cool souvenirs for yourself and even watch a robot show.

Entry to the factory is free, but tours to watch chocolate-making will cost you about 60 yen.

9. Watch a baseball game

If you thought that baseball was restricted to the United States alone, you have a friend in me because I did too. But when I came to Sapporo, I realised that Hokkaido had its own baseball team who played at the Sapporo Dome, a stadium built during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. 

Cheer on the Hokkaido Nippon Ham fighters in a match to experience the electrifying adventure or simply visit the stadium for a state-of-the-art experience. 

10. Conquer Mount Moiwa

A panoramic view of a city from a tower, like the TV tower in Sapporo, is magical, no doubt. But watching a city in all its glory from a mountain cannot be put into words. Take a ropeway to reach the top of Mount Moiwa summit and watch the city from up above. The scene looks even better after sunset when the sparkling city below looks like stars in the sky.

Spend some time at the observation deck, nibble at the restaurant and also visit the observatory at the summit for a wholesome experience. 

11. Delve into a bit of history

The dichotomy that you find when you travel to Japan, for me, is what the main attraction is. While we welcome the new, there is always respect for the old and the acknowledgement that we can progress when we only understand our past. 

In Sapporo, too, you can pay respect to Japan’s past with a visit to the Historical Village of Hokkaido. The village is like an open-air museum, and here you will find over 60 buildings back from the Meiji and Taisho era when Hokkaido was booming. You have a farm village, a town, a fishing village, and a mountain village here to explore.

A short walk from here leads you to the Hokkaido Museum, where you can find out about the history and culture of this prefecture and definitely the city. 

12. Moerenuma Park

Just outside the city of Sapporo, to the northeast, you find a large and unique park called Moerenuma Park. This massive park is surrounded by a marsh, and the park itself is lush green punctuated by dramatic structures that give the park a lot of character. The park was designed by the renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi, but sadly he passed away before he could complete his work. But the city of Sapporo went ahead with his creation, and the park opened its doors for everyone in 2005. There are many man-made features around the park that you should check out. 

what to do in sapporo

Hidamari is a huge glass pyramid structure that houses a gallery featuring the work of Noguchi. The other main attraction is the Sea Fountain which has daily water shows that shoot up water to about 25m into the air. You can easily laze around this park for half a day.   

13. Hokkaido Shrine

The spiritual aspect of Japan is celebrated in many temples and shrines dotted throughout the country. When in Sapporo, pay a visit to the Hokkaido Shrine, one of Japan’s most visited and important Shinto shrines. The shrine lies adjacent to Maruyama park, and it became popular after it was dedicated to the soul of Emperor Meiji in 1964. 

The shrine also has a beautiful garden which is one of the best places to be during the cherry blossom season for hanami. If you are visiting the city in June during the annual Sapporo festival, be sure to check out the long parades of traditionally dressed men who visit the shrine to pay homage to their ancestors. 

14. Let’s dig into some food, shall we?

A journey to a city is never complete without tasting the local food, and Sapporo is no different. Like anywhere else in Japan, ramen is a specialty here, and you have to try them out. Slurp some miso ramen which is prepared on the spot for you or some savoury and crispy gyoza, or how about some Jingisukan, a well-known mutton dish in Hokkaido. But the signature dish of this prefecture is actually a hairy crab called kegani. Though this isn’t cheap at all, it is extremely fresh and succulent, and it tastes like the ocean! 

15. Snow festival

what to do in sapporo

They say, save the best for the last, and I did exactly that. If you are still not convinced if you should include Sapporo in your list of places to visit, I am sure this will do the trick. Winter is an amazing time to visit Japan, and no place enjoys the season quite like Sapporo. In February, the city hosts the famous Snow festival that draws a crowd from all over. Though the festival has three event sites, it is at Odori Park, where the main event is held. Marvel at the ice sculptors and other statues here while gorging on some piping hot food. The view of the festival from the TV tower is also one that shouldn’t be missed!

The other sites of the festival like the Susukino site, the ice sculptors are lit up in the evening, and at the Tsu Dome site, you can take part in some snow games like skating and skiing. 

Are you having the problem of plenty? I am sure about it. Do not worry. A trip to Sapporo during any time of the year will make your heart full. So, pack your bags and prepare to visit this winter wonderland.       

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Swagachi

An introverted solo female traveller on an adventure around the world.

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