Why Is This Place so Great?
As the capital of Hokkaido, Sapporo is one of the nation’s largest cities with a population of just under 2 million people. The city first gained world recognition in 1972, when it hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Nowadays, the city is known for its delicious ramen, local Sapporo Beer, summer food festivals, and its annual Snow Festival in February showcasing large snow sculptures.
Luxury Hotel: JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo
JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo is conveniently located in the Sapporo City Centre, just a 4-minute walk away from JR Sapporo Station and offers direct access to Daimaru Sapporo Department store and four large shopping malls from within the hotel. With bilingual staff working at the property, employees are collectively able to speak Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese to assist with needs.
The hotel’s 342 rooms are designed in a modern western style featuring beds, carpeted floors in standard rooms, and large windows displaying the Sapporo skyline. Bathrooms feature modern Japanese toilets with bidet features, with a combination bath and shower unit for standard room categories, and separate bath and shower units for higher room categories.
Whilst the property doesn’t feature a fitness center (runners may request jogging routes from the front desk), it does have a spa on the 22nd floor and offers hotel guests a discounted fee to use their facilities. This cost will include the use of their separate men’s and women’s bathing units, which both offer a natural hot spring bath, jacuzzi bath, cold plunge bath, sauna, and steam room. Treatments such as massages and body scrubs can be arranged at an extra cost.
The hotel has a total of three dining establishments serving distinctly different cuisine. At Sky J, patrons will receive breakfast and lunch buffets, as well as an elegant multi-course meal complemented by live jazz music for dinner. Tancho, across the hall, serves an elegant Japanese meal that is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also a French fine-dining establishment on the property, which also serves multi-course meals.
Luxury Activity: Watch a Baseball Game at the Sapporo Dome
The Sapporo Dome is a huge stadium with the capacity to seat over 41,000 people. Completed in May 2001 for the purpose of hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup, it is now the home venue for its local Professional Baseball team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, as well as the occasional large-scale concert.
Baseball was first introduced to Japan in the 1860s during the Meiji Era. Although it gradually gained in popularity, the first professional league was not created until 1936 and has become a Japanese pastime ever since. Baseball is such a prevalent sport in Japanese culture that ESPN has even dubbed the country one of the top five countries where baseball is popular.
The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (sponsored by Nippon-Ham food processing company) are amongst one of the best teams in Japan’s professional league, having most recently won the Japan Series championships in 2016. If you attend one of these games, make sure you’re wearing Teal, Gold, or Black to support the team!
Luxury Dining: Moliere
Located in the residential area of Miyagaoka, Moliere is able to offer its discerning patrons gorgeous views of Maruyama Park. Lapin, Moliere’s parent restaurant company, has been in business for over 30 years and has continuously won awards. Moliere alone has been awarded Michelin stars since 2012 and was recently awarded its third and final star in 2017.
The restaurant prides itself on serving the freshest ingredients found in Hokkaido’s farms and oceans to create numerous French multi-course menus for patrons to taste. While everything on the menu is delicious, Moliere’s beef fillet and potato gratin are simply exquisite.
Lifestyle Hotel: Shogetsu Grand Hotel
Shogetsu Grand Hotel is located in the Jozankei Onsen-Higashi district of Sapporo, an hour train ride away from Sapporo City Centre and a half hour away from the Sapporo Kokusai Skiing Resort (one of the largest skiing operators in the area). Having discovered hot spring waters in 1866, the town now has dozens of ryokans offering visitors onsen experiences in their sodium chloride spring waters that helps relieve muscle and joint pains, bruises, sprains, fatigues, diabetes, cuts, and burns.
The hotel’s 59 rooms offer guests a choice between traditional Japanese ryokan rooms with tatami mats, modern Japanese rooms featuring tatami mats and a separate bedroom area with raised beds, or modern Western-style rooms featuring Simmons mattresses for a great night’s sleep. All rooms have views of the Toyohira River, as well as a private bathroom featuring a Japanese toilet with bidet functions and an ensuite bathing area; however, the hotel bathrooms receive ordinary heated waters as opposed to those from the hot springs. Consequently, those hoping for a private onsen experience should book the hotel’s Premium Suite, which is the only room that has access to hot spring waters in a private cypress-wood tub.
There are two different communal onsen baths on property that are heated to 167ºF. The first is an open-air bath made of rocks that overlooks the gorge and provides soothing sounds of the stream. The other is a cypress-wood bath that emits the scent of the cypress wood. Since it is part of onsen etiquette to bathe naked, men and women are separated into different areas. Due to this, the onsens operate on a rotational basis to allow both genders to enjoy the space every day. To learn more about onsen etiquette, click here.
Guests staying at Shogetsu Grand Hotel are offered half board dining packages. This includes a Japanese set breakfast and a multi-course kaiseki dinner to be enjoyed at the hotel’s Ichijo-tei restaurant or in the privacy of their room. However, if guests are still feeling hungry, the hotel offers a complimentary honey buffet on property that allows guests to try up to twenty different kinds of honey with yogurt and crackers.
Lifestyle Activity: Go Fruit Picking at Jozankei Farm
While there are a ton of active things to do in Jozankei, ranging from canoeing in Lake Jozan, enjoying nature walks, or horseback riding through the forests, our #NoFilter lifestyle choice would be picking and sampling fruit from Jozankei Farm.
The farm is huge, spanning a total of 21 hectares of space! Consequently, visitors are able to pick and feast on strawberries from their greenhouse and gardens in June, five different types of cherries in July, as well as grapes, apples, and plums from Late August to October.
Jozankei farm also offers its visitors a wide range of activities, including jam making, tree trekking, zip lining, fishing in their pond, and lure making experiences amongst others. The farm also serves barbecued meats and vegetables, burgers, and stone kilned pizzas on the premises.
Guests who visit Jozankei Farm for the purpose of purely roaming its beautiful mountain-range surrounding grounds or only partaking in their activities can choose to forgo the fruit picking fee and just pay the entry fee of 500 JPY (approximately $5 USD).
Although the farm is located off the beaten path, they do offer a complimentary shuttle that brings visitors from the Jozankei Tourist Information Center to the farm and back, which is only a 5-minute drive away.
Lifestyle Dining: Soup Curry Samurai
Soup Curry Samurai is a popular ramen chain that offers both meat and vegetarian dishes. The restaurant gives patrons a choice between the type of meat or vegetable in the ramen, followed by a choice between their four different soups: Tomato, Soybean, Coconut, or Soybean-Coconut mixed soups, and the heat level of the dish. We advise those who can’t handle heat to keep to a level 2 or below since there is quite a difference between level 2 and 3 heat.
The restaurant offers foreigners and English variation of the menu, but do note that the selection is smaller than those offered on the Japanese menu. While the full menu online is a PDF file and can be difficult to translate, their monthly limited time specials are listed on their website and can easily be translated by Google Chrome.
Boutique Hotel: Cross Hotel Sapporo
Cross Hotel Sapporo is a conveniently located in Sapporo City Centre and is only a 10-minute walk away from JR Sapporo Station.
Understanding that different folks have different strokes, part of the hotel’s concept is offering its guests three different room designs: Hip, Urban and Natural to choose from so guests can stay in a room that best fits their lifestyle and personality. The only elements that are the same in all rooms are the bedding, standard room amenities, and televisions that feature complimentary on-demand videos that include over 150 movies and lots of English choices too!
Hip rooms are designed with lots of white décors paired with glass furniture. This is also reflected in bathrooms, where vanities and sinks are made out of glass to match the room’s surroundings. Depending on the Hip room category of choice, guests will likely receive a choice between L’Occitaine or Thann shower products.
Urban rooms are painted in muted greys and feature dark brown wooden furniture. , and feature trending fixtures such as hanging bedside reading lights. Bathrooms are fitted with rain showers (and bathtubs in certain rooms), as well as a porcelain sink. Guests staying in this room category are likely to receive a choice between Ella Bache or L’Occitaine shower products.
Natural rooms use lots of wood accents for its furniture and fixtures. The bathrooms are a modern reflection of the room and also have the same glass vanities and sink, but fitted on top of a wooden structure, as well as wood-lined mirrors. Guests staying in this room category are likely to receive a choice between L’Occitane, Acca Kappa, or Thann bath products.
All guests who are staying at Cross Hotel receive complimentary drink service between 4 and 7 pm at the Bar Meet Lounge, as well as complimentary use of the hotel’s communal Daiyokujyou (Hot Bath) on the top floor of the hotel.
Guests who are looking for a little more luxury should book Cross Floor rooms to receive more spacious rooms and added amenities including a bottle of complimentary Mashike Cidre Hokkaido brewed hard cider, a box of chocolates, bathrobes, and a French press to enjoy Cross hotel’s original blend of coffee beans.
Boutique Activity: Visit the Sapporo Museum and Beer Garden
Established in 1877, Sapporo Breweries is one of the oldest and most popular beer brands in Japan. The Museum opened its doors in 1987 and became the first only beer related museum in the nation. At this free museum, visitors will learn about the origins of Sapporo Beer as well as the Dai Nippon Beer period that transitioned the beer industry to what it is today. The museum’s Star Hall features a paid tasting corner, where visitors can enjoy the brand’s “Classic” beer, only available in Hokkaido, as well as the brewery’s most popular product “Sapporo Draft Beer Black Label”.
Japanese speakers may want to pay for the museum’s premium guided tour, which concludes with a tasting of the reproduced version of Sapporo’s original Beer (only available to premium tour ticket holders), as well as a complimentary tasting of the brand’s black label beer.
Following the museum, head next door to Sapporo’s Beer Garden, where visitors can choose to enjoy all-you-can-drink Sapporo Beer with an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring king crab and local favorite “Genghis Khan” named barbecued lamb dish amongst many other dishes.
Boutique Dining: Eat Some Local Ramen!
Ramen is widely popular in Sapporo. So much so that Hokkaido’s famous miso ramen originated from the city. Those who are looking for a great bowl of these noodles should visit two destinations: Sapporo Ramen Yokocho and the Sapporo Ramen Republic.
Sapporo Ramen Yokocho is a famous alleyway established in 1951 that is now full of only ramen shops. What started out as only 7 ramen stores set up side by side to each other gradually turned into an entire alley of 17 stores total that all serve an excellent bowl of ramen in typical Hokkaido style. This being said, if you’re looking for the originator of the Hokkaido Miso Ramen, visit Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho (also on this alley, but located close to Susukino Station) to taste the original recipe.
Sapporo Ramen Republic is located on the 10th floor of the ESTA shopping complex and is home to 8 of the best Hokkaido-style ramen shops in the region. For a comprehensive review of each ramen store, check out Favy’s review here. Once you’ve eaten enough ramen, head over to Sapporo Ramen Republic’s souvenir shop to bring home the memory with you.
*Bonus Boutique Activity: Go to Sapporo’s Winter Festival in February*
Sapporo’s Winter Festival started back in 1950 when some local high school students created some snow sculptures in Odori Park. Since then, it has become an annual event that occurs for one week at the beginning of February.
These days, the festival is a large commercialized event that showcases some truly amazing snow and ice statues of landmarks and well-known characters from beloved films and animations. The intricate details behind these sculptures are jaw-dropping and have consequently gained lots of popularity by domestic tourists and foreigners as well. In fact, that Sapporo’s population literally doubles during this time, so book your hotels in advance!