Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido prefecture, which is Japan’s largest and northernmost prefecture (although its official name does not contain the word for prefecture). Known as the fifth largest city in Japan and the Second snowiest city in the world with an annual average snowfall of about 4.85 meters, Sapporo Winter first captures the eyes of the public when it became the first city in Asia to host the Winter Olympics in 1972. What’s more? It is also the birth place of Miso Ramen, Sapporo Beer and the host to the Sapporo Snow Festival which attracts over 2 million tourists annually.
Sapporo's Winter is just like A Wonderland!
Well known as the Winter Wonderland of Japan, Sapporo has plenty to offer. There is a certain magic to the Sapporo City during winter, overviewing the Sapporo City is as if you are inside one of the snow-globe during Christmas. Sapporo winter is a picture-perfect opportunity because of the balanced scenery between nature and city life.
As you are enjoying the view, fine, soft snow falls from the sky gently brushes against your skin and turns into soft white powder on the ground. Sapporo’s Winter Season starts around mid-December to the end of March.
Sapporo Winter Festival Makes Visitors FUN!
The best time to visit Sapporo may be the first week of February as the peak of the winter kicks in so does the Sapporo Winter Festival. It is the peak season of Sapporo too, so it is best for you to plan your trip early.
The Sapporo Winter Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is held one week during February usually the first week. The festival was started in 1950, when high school students built a few snow statues in Odori Park, since then it has developed into a large, commercialized event, featuring spectacular snow and ice sculptures.
The festival is staged on three sites, the Odori Site, Susukino Site and Tsu Dome Site. Odori Site is the main site for the festival as it is centrally located with 1.5 kilometers long park and features the festival’s famous large snow sculptures.
Susukino Site is located in Sapporo’s largest entertainment district, exhibits about a hundred ice sculptures. Only one subway stops south of Odori Park, the ice sculptures are lit up daily until 23:00.
Tsu Dome Site
While on the Tsu Dome Site there are three types of snow slides, snow rafting and more snow sculptures. The Tsu Dome is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00.
Sapporo Winter Olympics in 1972
The 11th Olympics Winter Games were held in the city of Sapporo in Hokkaido 1972. It was the first Winter Olympics to be staged outside Europe and the United States. Fourteen new facilities were constructed as event venues.
The Olympics Games have contributed to major urban development, with the opening of a subway system and construction of an underground shopping arcade. One of the legacies of the Sapporo Winter Olympics is the Sapporo Winter Sports Museum inside the Mt. Okura Ski Jump Stadium, which exhibits precious memorabilia from the Sapporo Olympics and the winter sports in general.
- Name: Sapporo Winter Sports Museum
- Address: 1274 Miyanomori, Chuo, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0958
- Opening Hours: 9:30am to 5:00pm
- Access: From Maruyama Koen Station on the Subway Tozai Line, take the JR Hokkaido Bus (Maru 14) and get off at "Okurayama kyogijo iriguchi" bus stop, walk 10 minutes.
2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games
Olympic is not the only games held in Sapporo, which is the Sapporo Asian Winter Games. Sapporo has held the first two Asian Winter Games in 1986 and 1990, and the 8th Asian Winter Games in 2017 too. There are 64 events across 11 winter sport disciplines with five main sports biathlon, curling, ice hockey, skating and skiing. Over 31 countries across Asia has joined the games in 2017, Australia and New Zealand made their first appearance at the Games after accepting an invitation from the OCA.
Japan has sent 146 athletes to compete in the 2017 Games and no doubt aim for the top finish, as in the past seven editions of the Asian Winter Games the host country has topped the final medal table six times. In the opening ceremony of the 2017 games, former Japanese ski jumper Masahiko Harada, who brought in a team gold at 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games, lit the Olympic cauldron.