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Odori Park, which is right in the center of Sapporo, plays a major role in the cultural and leisure activities of the city. It includes trees, lawns, flower beds, sculptures, monuments, fountains and a shallow waterway for children to play in. There are activities taking place in the park all year round. From April to October, for example, stalls selling all kinds of snacks spring up and the park becomes a vast open-air eatery. The park is home to the Yosakoi Soran Festival in the summer, and in the winter it hosts the Snow Festival and White Illumination.
At the eastern end of Odori Park, the Sapporo TV Tower, which is 147.2 meters high, watches over the city. It houses an observation level at 90 meters that offers the best panoramic view of the city as well as the mountains and sea in the distance. There are also souvenir shops, restaurants and a game center, so you can take it easy and spend some time here. Opening hours may vary according to season.
Maruyama Zoo makes for the perfect day out for the kids. Set in the idyllic surroundings of Maruyama Park, it has the feel of being miles from the city, yet it is only four subway stops away from the action. Gathered here are animals like chimps, elephants, camels and lions—but it is the polar bears that pull the most visitors. Within the grounds of the zoo there is another attraction—Kid Land—an amusement park for children of all ages.
Mount Moiwa is in the very center of Sapporo. At a height of 531 meters, it offers a fabulous panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. You can see right into the distant Sea of Japan and the Shokambetsu mountains. Mount Moiwa itself has a rich natural environment, covered with forests, so the colors of the mountains change with the seasons. The gondola ride up or down the mountain is spectacular especially at night for those with romance on their minds.
Winter sports enthusiasts will have a ball in this museum. Constructed on the site of the 1972 Winter Olympics, it is a memorial to those games. There are several different exhibitions, including the Olympic Medalists, the Misayama Ski Games and the Winter Universiade. The museum also features the world's first ski-jump simulator, which gives visitors the experience of jumping without the danger. In the attached theater you can see videos of the history of skiing and skating, as well as highlights from the Games.
Opened in 1971, this museum is devoted to the natural environment as well as the historical development of Hokkaido, the most-northern major island of the Japanese archipelago. The main exhibition covers the history of Hokkaido from about two million years ago up to the present day. It is divided into eight chronological stages. The exhibits covering the Ainu, the native aborigines, and the Early Modern Era (1869-1886) are particularly impressive. Educational programs, including weaving, milling with stone mortar, as well as a hands-on experience with tools and implements make this a great day out for children.
Located in the Hokkaido Nopporo Forest, just on the outskirts of Sapporo, this wonderful living history museum gives visitors a look at life in the pioneering days of Hokkaido from the Meiji Restoration (1868) onwards. It covers over 50 hectares and consists of four areas: town, mountain, farming and fishing villages. Buildings from all over Hokkaido have been transported here and reconstructed, including the old Sapporo Railway Station. Visitors can ride the horse-drawn trolleys (in winter horse-drawn sleighs are used) and participate in the seasonal events that run throughout the year.
Although this gondola was originally built to transport skiers to the Teine Highland Ski Area, you do not have to be a skier to enjoy the spectacular view from this cable car. From spring to autumn, groups of hikers and picnickers take the gondola up to the top for a spectacular view over the surrounding forests and valleys. The ascent takes just over five minutes, but it is long enough to snap some great photos. Get there early and enjoy a walk through the highlands.
While you are in Sapporo, why not head for a hot spring to soak away stress or enjoy the winter from the comfort of a steaming natural hot spring? Jozankei Onsen is the perfect place to do this. This spa is located in a beautiful gorge with the famous yu-no-taki (hot waterfall). The water of this spa is slightly saline and is reputed to be good for those who suffer from rheumatism, neuralgia or gastro-enteric disorders. For those who wish to stay overnight, there are some excellent traditional inns.