What to do in Sapporo, Otaru, and more | Hokkaido

The first time I visited Sapporo was back in 2013 with my parents and brother. Needless to say, my perspectives and tastes has changed by a lot since. In 2013, I was very busy buying Japanese makeup, shoes and bags, and looking for the next all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant. Now with a toddler by my side, being a woman in her 30s, I'm more into quiet shrines, cute cafes, and cultural places.  

Even my trip from 2016 was different. I was very into hiking back then, and I often travelled alone, so I could hike whenever and wherever I wanted. Last time in Sapporo I was also able to see their Obon Festival and I went and danced in the crowds. And in Otaru I hiked up Mt. Tengu and tried a German style outdoor slide! 

Fastforward to 2021, we went to Hokkaido for a 11 day trip at the end of my son's summer break. We spent the first weekend enjoying flower fields in Furano, and for the rest of the duration it was mostly me and Archer running around Sapporo, Otaru, and the cities in between. 

Here is a list of places you can check out when you visit Sapporo:

Suwa Shrine

Just a few streets north of Sapporo Station is this beautiful shrine that has different flowers all year round. The colorful paper umbrellas also frame the chozuya perfectly. There's also mizu-mikuji which are fortune papers that only reveal when you dip it into water! 




Sally's Cupcake & Sapporo Factory Mall

If you're looking for a place to eat and shop, this is your spot. Sapporo Factory Mall used to be an actual factory but it was renovated and repurposed as a mall. There are 3 large buildings with many options to choose from. Sally's Cupcake is located on the 2/F of the Sanjo building. It's a super adorable cupcake and cookies shop with seasonal products. Their sugar icing cookies are especially great as a gift to bring home. 

Sapporo Clock Tower
South of Sapporo station, near Odori park is the Sapporo Clock Tower. It is one of the iconic buildings of the city that you don't want to miss. Built back in 1878 it is one of the city's oldest landmark that still stands and is a historical and cultural symbol of Sapporo. With a small fee you can visit the inside of the building to learn more about Sapporo's history, other important buildings of Hokkaido, and learn all about the clock itself. 

SAPPORO Flower Carpet
Each year for just 3 days between June - August, volunteers will lay down beautiful "paintings" made from flower petals in this square area. You can apply to become a volunteer to help out which comes with a few free classes about the making of this flower carpet art. 

Visit the official website www.sapporo-flowercarpet.com for more information. 

Hokkaido Jingu
This is another very important landmark and religious location for the city of Sapporo. It's located on the westside in Maruyama Park along with the Sapporo City Maruyama Zoo. The shrine was established in 1869 (around the time the city was established) by Emperor Meiji. It does remind me a lot of Meiji Jingu in Tokyo as it's a very long walk through a lovely forest area into a massive ground for the shrine itself. There's a little hut along the way which sells drinks and desserts such as ice-cream if you need to sit down and rest. 



Tanukikoji shopping street
This is an indoor shopping street that spans across 7 blocks of space just south of Odori park. Not only are there cute decorations all-year-round, there's also lots of restaurants to choose from, and shops selling all kinds of traditional crafts as well as souvenir items. If you also need to just grab some daily essentials, there are many drug stores as well as a large Don Quijote here. Other than that, there are many really cool bars in and around this shopping street, so if you're looking for a night out you can start from here! 



Hoshioki Shrine
About 30mins on the JR Hakkodate line, right at the halfway point between Sapporo and Otaru is this beautiful Shrine on a hill. "Hoshi" means star, so you will find a lot of star related elements throughout the shrine. Not only do they have a beautiful Chozuya, featuring seasonal flowers year-round, their Goshuin is also incredibly beautiful. If you are a collector of Goshuin, this spot is a must. 




Otaru's Sakaimachi Wind Chime Festival 

I've previously written in detail on the beautiful spots around Otaru in Summer already which includes a little trip up Mt. Tengu. And the Otaru Canal is especially beautiful in winter time. This time I'd like to focus on the wind chime festival. 

Sakaimachi is a row of shopping street that is very popular for tourists to eat and shop at. It starts around where the Music Box Museum is and stretches all the way north to the canal. In August, the entire street is lined by many wind chimes to celebrate summer. A lot of shops also offer many different designs from clear glass to cute character porcelain ones. Two really good spots to see wind chimes is the music box museum which has this half circle dome wooden structure, and "Kakumarudo" which has a red wind chime tunnel.


Sapporo is definitely a city that has lots to offer, from historical culture to delicious food, fun shopping experiences, and lots of different events. We had a full week to stay and explore and had so much fun. Next time you visit Hokkaido, don't forget to base yourself in Sapporo for a few days so you can explore all of these fun spots! 

Follow me on instagram @ariel.land for more Japan travel tips

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