looking back at sapporo

i’m trying my hand at maybe my last ‘regular’ series of posts… to look back upon the cities that we’ve stayed in this trip and to compare that to our first day to see how our opinions of the city had changed.  aside from the ski resorts, sapporo was my first city…

when did we visit and for how long?
mid february and early march for 2+ weeks

what kind of accommodations?
three airbnbs.  one townhouse and two apartments.

what made us decide to visit?
originally because it was a stopover for some city life after niseko and rusutsu but we ended up back here because it was a good base to do day trips to the nearby mountains (kiroro, teine, kokusai, rusutsu) but still allowed us to stretch our legs out beyond resort life.  the sapporo ice festival was also running during our first visit so the city was buzzing with people and giant ice/snow sculptures throughout the city.

what characteristics did I like about the city?
-looking at the city (both day and night) with all the snow and the sun beaming off the buildings and water.  it’s a beautiful city; almost devoid of skyscrapers
-underground walkway that connects multiple subway stations down the main thoroughfare of the city.  we didn’t find out about this until after a few days in but better late than never

what were my favourite meals?
-ramen shingen – best ramen at this point in the trip.  amazing garlic fried rice
-soup curry and dining suage+ – will never forget this dish and we’ll be trying our hand at replicating this.  sapporo, with its cold climate, is the birthplace of soup curry and it found it’s way into our stomach (and hearts)
-omelet rice – haha makes a mean omu-rice but we left this one up to the pros.  fried rice in a thin omelette/crepe and covered with beef & mushroom sauce.  mmm, i can taste it now
-kushidori yakitori – always fun times to eat meat on sticks.  this chain of yakitori shops are reasonably priced, have a large selection of meats and the beer runs cold and cheap.  the one caveat is that non-smoking doesn’t exist in yakitori restaurants.
-chinese cuisine hotei – the best chicken karaage I’ve ever had with mapo tofu.  oh, and mapo tofu ramen as well.
-craft beers @ north island beer bar & moon and sun beer brewery and bar, the latter actually brewing their own beers onsite – both are very close to each other by the nijo fish market

what were my favourite moments?
-daytrip to the houheikyo onsen – my first onsen experience as well as hanging (no pun) out with a bunch of nekkid strangers
-trekking out to ramen alley with the crew who was in niseko and rusutsu: liz, jp, nick and emma on our first night in sapporo and then checking out the ice festival
-haha and my first cat cafe.  allergies be damned!
-our last night together as a crew before jp and nick flew home.  yakitori and then finding some really good beer at North Island beer bar.  we left the bar to find ourselves in a mild storm that had blanketed the city in snow so we stumbled our way home through the fluff

were there any moments i could have done without?
-the painstaking cold.  for all the time i spend in sub zero temperatures on the mountains, i have next to no street clothes to cope with that climate
-10 degree air rips through jeans like it was nobody’s business
-getting brutally sick on our ride in from rusutsu.  it knocked me out for three days and it was a slow recovery back to the land of the living.  possibly a flu, food poisoning or even an allergic reaction

what are the biggest differences from home?
-it reminded me a lot of Vancouver actually.  the city is relatively small (in comparison to tokyo) and is surrounded by mountains close enough that you can see them from the city.
-the lifestyle is much less hectic than tokyo and even osaka which is also why it reminds me so much of home
-giant, huge headed, food hunting crows. these were the evilest looking birds I’ve ever seen.  they used to scope us out from directly outside our airbnb.  we even had one incident where a pack followed emma around for a few blocks while she was eating her nikuman (steamed meat bun)

would I visit again?  why/why not?
absolutely.  will be begging, borrowing and stealing to find my way back to hokkaido for more powder days.  my plan will be to spend more time nearby to sapporo and renting a car to save some money and have some flexibility with our riding schedule

was the full stay similar to our first 24 hours?
-not for me.  I was on my death bed and didn’t leave our home for the next 48 hours so thankfully the full stay was nothing like that

rate my overall experience
-loved the city.  had a rough spell the first visit, a practical one on our second stop for one night and then a great stay on our final week+ long stretch before we put an end to our winter portion of this journey.  food plentiful, reasonably priced with some different variations from tokyo.  spring and summer would be a great time to visit as well as i’ve read that people spill out into the parks and it’s even more like vancouver.  with hokkaido boasting some of the best (most & least crowded) powder anywhere in the world, sapporo doesn’t even need to be a great city to attract me to go back except that it is.  would love to spend a full year there to take advantage of all the seasons and see how the city changes with the temperature.  hong kong is the only other city aside from home that i’ve spent this much time and sapporo wins out by a longshot.

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