Sapporo is the largest city north of Tokyo and is the fifth largest city in Japan. It has many great places to visit and one of the most famous entertainment districts in Japan. Sapporo has a relatively short history
compared to other Japanese cities. City construction only started in earnest in 1868. Before this period there was only a small Ainu population and a small number of Japanese families. Now this city boasts more than 1,856,203 people and is the third largest city, in terms of area, in Japan. There are many ways of getting to Sapporo, by air, sea and land. However the Tokyo to Sapporo traffic route is one of the busiest in the world and it is strongly advised that you book ahead. In recent years more companies are flying to Sapporo directly from international destinations. Many of these flights will come via Tokyo Narita Airport or Tokyo Haneda Airport. A new Shinkasen or Bullet Train line has been completed. This line however only goes to Hakodate. From Hakodate to Sapporo it is then necessary to catch a regular express train.
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The main area of Sapporo City spreads from the newly redeveloped Sapporo station south to Nakajima Park (Nakajima Koen). The vast majority of shops, restaurants and the famous Susukino entertainment area can be found within this area. There are several major department stores and shopping areas including Daimaru, Stella Place and Paseo located on top of and around Sapporo station. Other major department stores include Mitsukoshi, Parco and Marui.
Oodori Park (Oodori Koen) marks the center of Sapporo and is a beautiful park to visit in the summer and is the area of the world famous Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri) held in February. From this area south, running the length of the street to Susukino entertainment area, there is an underground shopping complex called Pole town. Running directly under Oodori Park there is another shopping complex called Aurora Town. These areas are especially useful during winter as you can walk peacefully, well protected from the severe winter weather.
Located between Oodori and Susukino is the covered mall area called Tanukikoji. This area others some good shops and restaurants and also many famous Pachinko (Japanese slot machines) parlors.
From Sapporo station the start of the Susukino area is marked by Robinsons Department Store and the huge Nikko Whiskey sign. This area offers large numbers of bars and restaurants and other forms of entertainment.
There are three main subway lines in Sapporo. (Maps) The Nanboku line runs North to South and is color coded green. The Tozai line runs East to West and is color coded orange and the Toho line runs somewhat parallel to the Nanboku line and then into the north-eastern suburbs and is color coded blue. There is also a street car or tram running through the south-western area of Sapporo and can be a great way to get a glimpse of some of the outer areas of the city.
(Click here for a full Sapporo subway and street car map.)