JSPS Quarterly
No.38 2011 Winter Topics


Introducing Japan: Sapporo

By Dr. Rashid Manzoor

I’ve lived in Sapporo for more than seven years, and always feel at home here. Unlike the megalopolises on Honshu, Japan’s main island, Sapporo is not overcrowded though its population of 1.9 million ranks it as the country’s fifth largest city. The name Sapporo originates in the language of the Ainu, Hokkaido’s indigenous people. It most likely stems from the words sari-poro-pet, meaning “river lined with large reeds.” In fact, Sapporo lies on the alluvial fan of the Toyohira River. The slopes of the surrounding mountains, such as Teine, Moiwa and Maruyama, won Japan its bid to host the 1972 Winter Olympics, for which Sapporo may be best known internationally.

Viewing platform atop Mt. Okura
Viewing platform atop Mt. Okura

I’d like to recommend visiting the Ski Jump Stadium on Mt. Okura. You can take a chairlift to the top of the approach and look straight down at the steep slope. There is also a beautiful viewing lounge at the top of the mountain (about 300 meters in elevation) from where a spectacular panoramic view can be had of the Sapporo area. The Ski Jump Stadium includes the Sapporo Winter Museum, which vividly introduces the history of winter sports through exhibitions and simulations.

The city offers many other attractions, highlighted by Odori Park where the Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri) is held every winter. This 7-day event features hundreds of crystal-like ice sculptures and snow structures of everything from traditional buildings that light up at night, statues of the pharaohs and other historical figures, and sculptures of cartoon characters to a huge snow maze, and even ice slides for the children.

Sapporo

Inside Yurigahara Park
Inside Yurigahara Park

I also like to go with family and friends to Odori Park to see the Yosakoi Soran Festival, with its teams of costumed dancers performing to music based on soran bushi songs, and to Yurigahara Park to enjoy the vast array of 6,000 flowers and plants. We also like going to the Maruyama Zoo to enjoy a “good relationship with the animals.” My children can touch small animals like guinea pigs and rabbits and feed squirrel monkeys.

All in all, I’d say that Sapporo offers attractions for people with a wide range of interests.



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JSPS Quarterly No.38 2011