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DISCOVER: Sapporo – An ANA Mini Guide

Dubbed the ‘Portland of Japan’ due to its laid-back attitude, outdoorsy spirit, rich food culture and thriving creative scene, Sapporo is well worth the trip to Japan’s chilly northern isle.

Read on for our Mini Guide to Hokkaido’s dynamic capital.


The ultimate sculpture park

We’ve all heard of sculpture parks, but Hokkaido is the only city in the world with an entire park that is itself a sculpture. Taking over 20 years to construct, Moerenuma Park sprung from the imagination of Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who’s vision was to turn 400 acres of former landfill on the outskirts of Sapporo into a vibrant community space. A series of dramatic man-made structures linked by a network of pathways and acres of parkland makes for a great day’s exploring.


A thriving craft beer scene

Look past Sapporo’s ubiquitous namesake lager and you’ll find a thriving micro-brewing scene. With endless cosy bars and brewpubs, craft-beer enthusiasts should put a Sapporo pub-crawl at the top of their boozy bucket lists. Don’t miss Tsuki to Taiyo Brewing where a long bar and ten taps serve a rotating selection of Japan’s finest craft-brews, and be sure to try a glass of locally brewed Coriander Black, served at Beer Bar North Island. Those wanting to continue the party into the early hours should head to Provo where local DJs will try to tempt you onto the dance floor, beer in hand.


The world’s hippest hunting brand

Sapporo is a well-known hub for creativity and design fans will love scouring the streets for pop-up galleries and hidden boutiques. But be sure to keep your eyes peeled for local brand South2 West8. Taking inspiration from Hokkaido’s passion for outdoor pursuits, South2 West8 have created what is without a doubt the hippest hunting brand on the planet. Shooting jackets, fishing vests and waders get a Japanese streetwear makeover as South2 West8 delivers clothing as suited to the streets of Tokyo as the Hokkaido back-country.


Japan’s best bar of chocolate

Japan isn’t a nation known for its chocolate, but if you are in search of a homely sugar high whilst travelling in Hokkaido, it’s worth knowing that Sapporo is home to Japan’s tastiest bar. Holding its own against the likes of Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers, Sapporo’s bean-to-bar brand Saturdays Chocolate’s Factory Café is a mecca for chocolate fans up and down the country. Try any of the lovingly crafted, beautifully wrapped bars and you won’t be disappointed, though we hear it’s the house hot chocolate that really gets pulses racing.


Seafood heaven

A veritable paradise for seafood lovers, Sapporo is home to one of Japan’s busiest fish markets, where every morning a fresh catch from the surrounding northern waters is dispatched to restaurants and sushi counters up and down the country. With an abundance of fresh produce visitors are spoilt for choice, so why not side-step the usual sushi joints and opt for Tempura Kobashi, serving highly rated seafood tempura to a select nine customers seated round a counter. Hidden away on the third floor of an unremarkable high-rise, Tempura Kobashi is truly a local gem, and has been delighting customers for over 15 years with one of Sapporo’s best multi-course seafood sets.


Perfect powder, a hop, skip and a ski away.  

Home to Japan’s most rugged landscapes, Hokkaido is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, and winter visitors to Sapporo can reach some of Japan’s best ski slopes in under two hours. Consistently topping lists as Japan’s best ski resort, Niseko, a short drive from Sapporo is a veritable paradise for powder-hounds and back-country explorers. Armed with a single pass, skiers have access to a whopping 2,191 acres of terrain across four major resorts surrounding Mount Niseko-Annupuri. Siberian storms bring endless dumps of light, dry powder, where an average annual snowfall of over 15 metres makes Niseko one of the snowiest ski resorts not just in Japan, but in the world.

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