Sapporo: The making of one of Japan’s elite cities
Sapporo is the official designated capital of the Hokkaido Prefecture, an Island located in the northern part of Japan. Sapporo is also the biggest city on the island with a population of 1.9 million people making it the fifth most populated city in Japan and the most populated in the northern part of the country.
Historically, the area was first inhabited by the Ainu people; an indigenous ethnic group that existed throughout the Hokkaido Island way before the era of civilisation took off in Japan. They did not speak Japanese and did not consider themselves as one, but were conquered by the Imperial Japanese in the 9th century and assimilated to become a part of the growing nation of Japan.
With the population of the indigenous Ainu people in Hokkaido being too small, (around 70,000 by the 19th century), the Japanese government embarked on a project that was aimed at developing the area and encouraging more Japanese people to settle there. The initiative became a huge success and saw a lot of Japanese in other parts of the country moving to settle in Sapporo in the 19th century, paving the way to making the city of Sapporo one of the country’s elite and most developed cities.
In 1960s, Sapporo made history when it was rewarded to become the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics becoming the first city in the whole of Asia to achieve such a feat. In 2002, the city also co-hosted some World Cup matches when Japan and Korea co-hosted the World Cup together.
The city is quite famous and well known throughout Asia for many things, one being its iconic and envied history of beer production. For centuries, the city of Sapporo has produced local beers for residence and tourists. The city’s famed beer production is one of the main attractions that lure tourists to the city. To ensure the history of the city in Beer production is well documented and not lost, a Beer Museum has been established in the city. Tourists who visit the museum get an opportunity to learn about Sapporo’s brewing history and how it all started. There is also a Beer garden for lovers of the drink to go and taste some locally brewed Sapporo beer.
Due to the mountainous landscape of the city, it is also one of the best destinations for hikers and skydivers, an activity that attracts thousands of people to the city each year.
The biggest attraction of the city, however, is the Sapporo Snow Festival, celebrated in February each year over seven days. The Snow Festival involves the use of snow ice to make snow statues and amazing sculptures. The event is held at the Tsudome and Odori Park, both located in the centre of Sapporo. It is estimated that each year, the festival alone is responsible for attracting over 1.5 million tourists to the city. This number reached its peak in 2007 when over two million tourists made their way to Sapporo to attend the festival, and since then, the festival has seen an average of about 1.8million tourists attending.
During the weeklong festival, an international snow sculpture competition is held and sees teams from all over the world participating for the enviable title. The snow sculptures and statues could be anything known publicly, from a famous athlete to an iconic building.
Sapporo is also home to some fantastic tourist destinations worth visiting in a lifetime. Places like the Sapporo TV Tower makes for an amazing tourist experience. The tower has a viewing deck that provides an opportunity to see the landscape of the city from high up.
The Odori Park, the traditional home grounds of the Sapporo Snow Festival is also a prominent attraction in the city. Besides the snow festival, the park hosts events all year round, and there’s never a dull moment at the park. What is more beautiful is that the park has green leaves all year round. The leaves do not wither away in the summer season, or blossom when there is rain. It simply remains beautifully green throughout the year, irrespective of weather condition.
And for the lovers of Chocolate (well basically everyone loves chocolate), a visit to Sapporo could be the dream as you would have the chance to the Ishiya Chocolate factory, a local chocolate factory in the city, for a tour.
By all standard, Sapporo has blossomed into a beautiful modern city, worth visiting.