September 19-25, 2018
After two and a half month spent constantly on a road we looked forward to a rest in Sapporo. Originally we did not want to stay the whole week, but thanks to our lack of planning, almost everything in the entire Hokkaido was fully booked or super expensive. Everybody wanted to see Hokkaido’s autumn foliage last two weeks in September.
Read more: Shiretoko National Park
We got lucky and found cheap Airbnb room at Shinoro, five train stops from the main Sapporo station. The area was a little bit a sleepy hole but served well to our needs. However, to enjoy the city itself, it is better to be in the centre. For our next visit, three weeks later we stayed in Capsules Hotel. It was a great choice, cheap, clean, old-school and… weird 🙂
Honestly, we expected a little bit more from Sapporo. Its centre, with few exceptions, seems to be rather small and relatively calm. It is also probably lack of tall buildings, Japanese gardens, and shrines, fewer shinings signs etc. what makes Sapporo less Japanese and maybe less attractive. There are better choices for city breaks in Japan.
It does not mean you should skip it if you go to Hokkaido. We very much enjoyed the modern part of the city with “ramen street”, and ramen shops spotted in buildings around. Odori park where autumn food festival was in full force. Long shopping arcade street. And also the University area where you can hang around, have a cheap lunch even on the weekend and visit a free museum. One day we spent in a big and relaxed Moerenuma Park built a little bit away from the city. The real fun was the Shiroi Koibito chocolate factory (some sort of small, free amusement park).
We usually returned exhausted after the whole day by a train at 7 PM. Which, as we realized just the second day, was a good choice. At this time in “our” supermarket only two blocks away from our Airbnb they applied 50% discount on plenty of ready-to-eat items. But don’t mess this with supermarket’s ready-to-eat anywhere you live or lived. In Japan, everything is fresh, tasty and usually even prepared in the supermarket. During the day variety of food is incredible and it is considered as proper food. You can find everything from sashimi, sushi, sandwiches, rice with pork, any type of bento, tempura etc. Such late afternoon or evening discounts can be found across the whole country, just time and offer may differ. If you are on a budget, this saves you a lot. Later, especially when we rented a car in Kyushu, we always bought bento also for lunch the next day.
From all Japanese airports, Sapporo is our favourite, despite being relatively small. Public Domestic Terminal area, before security checkpoints, is rather some kind of big market or food shopping mall. Where else can you buy live crabs at the airport? 2nd floor is full of restaurants in case you get hungry. Neither Fukuoka or Naha head such great airport. I don’t even remember this to see at Tokyo’s Narita.