Sapporo is one of my favorite cities in the world after I lived there as a missionary nearly 15 years ago. It isn’t one of the most famous cities in the world, or even in Japan, but it stands apart for its ability to blend the uniqueness of Hokkaido into a big city of Japan. In this article, we have scoured our past experiences and the best images images from some of our favorite Instagrammer’s to compile this list of the 17 top photo locations in Sapporo.
Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. It is also the fifth largest city in Japan, boasting a population of 2 million people. Sapporo is known for its crazy weather with hot summers and very very very cold winters, with lots of snow.
Sapporo Snow Festival
This location is probably the king of all Sapporo photo opportunities, but it is only available during part of the year, which is also the coldest time to visit. It is well worth the visit though if you get the chance.
The Sapporo Snow Festival lasts just seven days every February. The snow statues and festivities are predominantly locate in Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome.
This huge festival attracts millions of visitors to Sapporo each year. The statues that make up the event range in size from small characters to massive buildings. There are generally about 400 statutes displayed each year for the festival. About three quarters of those statues are usually at Odori Park.
The recent Snow Festival featured this impressive cathedral replica, in front of which Chihiro Tamai is posing.
Another fun image from in front of the centerpiece structure comes from Mireya Irazaba.
Yarra Regita shows how great a shot you can get with even some of the smaller quirky ice sculptures.
The next two images from Eka Julia show how the festival includes fun sculptures showing the incorporation of modern culture and entertainment.
Sapporo Beer Museum
The Sapporo Beer Museum, located in the Sapporo Garden Park in Higashi-ku, is the only beer museum in Japan. It was registered as one of the Hokkaidō Heritage sites in 2004. The building which houses the museum was originally a factory for the Sapporo Sugar Company in 1890. It later opened as a museum in July 1987. You can see the picturesque building in the image below from Blake Testro.
Centennial Memorial Tower
This modernist tower, designed by architect Iguchi Ken, was built from 1968 to 1970 mark Sapporo’s centennial celebration. The design features Sapporo’s unique place in japan with a base reminiscent of a six-sided snowflake and a cross-section that reveals the Japanese kanji for “north” (北), pronounced kita. The tower is located in Nopporo Shinrin-kōen. The below image was taken by me in 2005.
Sapporo TV Tower
The Sapporo TV Tower (pronounced Sapporo Terebi-tō) was built in 1957 by the famous Japanese architect Tachu Naito. It is a 147.2 meter high TV tower with an observation deck, which is located 90.38 meters up the tower. The TV Tower is Located on the at the famous Odori Park. The tower is open to tourists so you can ride up to the observation deck and capture an amazing view of Odori Park and surrounding Sapporo. You can see the iconic tower in the fun image below from @dedepurple.
Ganso Ramen Yokocho (Ramen Alley)
The famous Ganso Ramen Yokocho and Ramen Ally is located near the Susukino Station in Sapporo. The Alley first started taking shape in 1951 when 7 ramen restaurants set up shop in the yokocho alley. Ramen Alley steadily grew as more ramen shops moved in. Today the Alley is only ramen shops, with 17 restaurants all renowned for making excellent ramen in the typical Hokkaido style. Ganso Ramen Yokocho is also the birthplace of my favorite ramen, Miso (I actually prefer spicy miso ramen)
Ramen Alley, with its narrow pathway and lots of signs packs a ton of interest in any composition. I love the image below from Katie Holly posing in the alley with the lanterns above her head and shops on either side.
Hitsujiagaoka is an observation hill located in Toyohira. Is is the site of sheep breeding that started a hundred years ago, which led to its name, which means “hill of sheep.” The hill is home of a famous bronze statue of Dr. William S. Clark, who is a well known as the symbol of frontier spirit of Hokkaido.
The famous statue can be seen in the image below from Ratchanon Khunprom. When its not covered by snow, you get a view of beautiful grass fields leading down to the Sapporo Dome.
The famous Otaru Canal was built in 1923, and many of the original buildings still line its sides. You can find the canal by walking ten minutes south from the Otaru train station. Popular spots along the canal that you should visit include the Chuo Bridge, Asakuso Bridge and the Canal Plaza.
In the beautiful image below from Jess Tan, you can see the flowers and vibrant greens that line the canal in the spring.
The Otaru Canal is also quite stunning in the winter, as you can see in the image below from Yanyee Wong Queenie.
We also recommend checking out Otaru Canal at night for beautiful reflections of all the lights and the presence of 63 gas lights that lines its side. You can see an example below from @ricoroyal3.
Fushimi Inari Jinja Shrine
This is the only Inari shrine in Hokkaido, and it is said to brings good luck for good relationships. It is not far from Nishisenjurokujo Station, but does require a bit of a steep hike to reach the shrine. It is famous for its fantastic red gates, which make a perfect composition for your photograph, as you can clearly see in the image below from @ricoroyal3.
Moerenuma Park, designed by famous artist Isamu Noguchi, is one of the largest parks in Sappor. The park is a former waste disposal site that was transformed to feature various artistic features highlighting amazing views and great greenery.
Some of the famous attractions in Moerenuma Park include the giant triangular Mount Moere, the Hidamari glass pyramid, and the Sea Fountain, which spouts ocean water 82 feet (25 m) in the air. The park also features various playground and recreational opportunities.
In the image below from Melissa Niken, you can see the Hidamari glass pyramid.
The immense scale of this crazy park can be seen in the image below from Henry Lam. The pyramid that looks so small in this image is actually quite massive, and this set of stairs is not for the faint of heart. I was here many years ago and climbed to the top. It is intense for sure, but the view at the top is well worth it.
You can see how big that triangle actually is in the image below, showing me after I climbed to the top in 2005.
In another beautiful image from Moerenuma Park, Max Xu used the great winding stairs and bold green grasses to create a beautiful composition.
Sapporo Art Park
Sapporo Art Park was founded in 1986 and renovated in 1999. Its stated goal is to”cultivate unique new culture in Sapporo and create an environment in which the city, the arts, and culture exist in harmony with Sapporo’s natural beauty.”
The Art Park features the Sapporo Sculpture Garden, the Sapporo Art Museum and the Craft Hall. Many of the park’s exhibitions are designed to look different in the varying seasons of the year.
One of the most photogenic exhibits can be seen in the image below from Quennie Chua.
In another image from Quennie Chua, you can see what is probably the most popular exhibit in the park based on Instagram coverage.
Another fun image from these popular yellow men is below from Aja Brandman.
Check out the intense staring contest between Nana Takase and the statute below.
Historic Village of Hokkaido
The Historical Village of Hokkaido is an open-air museum which portends to show Hokkaido as it would have been during the Meiji and Taisho eras. The village, which features 60 historic buildings, is divided into 4 sections: a town, a fishing village, a farming village, and a mountain village.
The Historic Village is located in the Nopporo Forest Park just outside central Sapporo, close to the Hokkaido Museum.
The next two images from Iffah Azhar show some of the beauty of the village.
Susukino is the biggest red-light district in Sapporo, located in Chūō-ku. You will find Susukino congested with many restaurants, bars, hotels, and adult-entertainment establishments.
@sangyoon0424 shows the famous Susukino crossing, in the image below, which features the famous Nikka sign.
Another great image of Susukino crossing is shown in the image below from Sung sik Nam.
Gaby Motomochi shows off the many neon lights of Susukino in the image below.
Mount Moiwa is located in the middle of Sapporo. It offers panoramic views over all of Sapporo and the Ishikari Bay in the Sea of Japan. It is known as one of the best city views in all of Japan.
You can climb the mountain by foot, or take the Mount Moiwa Ropeway partway up the slopes, and then board a unique mini cable car that brings you to the observation deck at the mountain’s summit.
Mount Moiwa is also home to a Peace Pagoda commemorating peace after World War II, and its stupa can be seen from just about anywhere in the city. Also famous at the top of Mount Moiwa is the Lover’s Sanctuary where you can ring the bell of happiness. Orga.B shows how it’s done in the image below.
The Bell of Happiness is also impressive at night, as you can see in the below image from Coco Ong.
Maruyama Zoo, in Maruyama Park, is the largest zoo in Hokkaido. It is unfortunately most famous for its four year attempt to mate two hyenas before realizing they were both males.
The zoo also features some great photo opportunities with polar bears, as shown off in the image below from Gaby Motomochi.
I had the opportunity to catch a baseball game in the Sapporo Dome a few years after its 2001 opening, and it was quite the experience I recommend to all. The Sapporo Dome is home to the baseball team Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and the association football (or soccer) club Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.
The striking silver dome makes a great backdrop for your picture as you can see in the image from YaQuan Cao.
Don’t just limit yourself to the outside of the dome though as there are many great photo opportunities in and around the dome as well. The image below shows Siri Bantu sitting on the steps painted with the team logos.
Odori Park (or Odori Koen) was originally established as a main street in Sapporo (Odori meaning “large street”). The park divides Sapporo into north and south sections.
After a flower garden was planted in one of the street’s 13 blocks in 1876, the area became a park. Today Odori Koen runs nearly a mile (1.5 km) from the Sapporo TV Tower to the Sapporo City Archive Museum. The park is the main site of the Sapporo Snow Festival in February, and hosts the Sapporo Lilac Festival in May. It is also a great place to catch the summer festivals or to just relax and enjoy the scenery pretty much anytime of the year. It is pretty much my favorite spot in all of Sapporo.
Yoga & Turtle pose in front of the famous dancers sculpture in the park with the TV Tower in the background. In the spring, these statues are surrounded by beautiful flowers.
Sapporo Clock Tower
When I first heard about a Sapporo Clock Tower, I just assumed it was the giant TV Tower at Odori Park, but the Sapporo Clock Tower is actually a historic white building that looks more like an old school house with a giant clock on the front tower. To me, it almost felt out of place in a large Japanese city, but it is definitely worth the stop, as shown in the great image from Ogura Yulin below.
If you made it this far, you have seen some of the best of what this amazing city has to offer. Share with us some of your experiences at these locations, which one you want to visit most, or some special location we overlooked over in our Facebook group.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out some of our other Instragram guides too.