Sapporo offers more than just good food. In fact, you might be surprised at the wide range of after-hours activities available to you in Hokkaido’s prefectural capital. 

Whether you’re visiting in the dead of winter or mid-July, traveling with friends or your significant other, these four fabulous activities are sure to keep everyone entertained and elevate your Sapporo trip from excellent to exceptional.

1. Mount Moiwa Observatory

Mount Moiwa, just 5 kilometers southwest of the city center, features an observatory that overlooks the city and its environs from a height of 531 meters. If you’re keen for a hike, you can climb up to the observatory; otherwise, a ropeway will whisk you from the base of the mountain to the halfway point, from where a mini cable car will take you to the observatory at the summit. 

The night view of Sapporo was recently voted one of the three most beautiful in Japan, alongside those of Nagasaki and Kitakyushu. Visit the observatory on a clear night to see lights twinkling across the city from one edge of the horizon to the other. Amateur and professional photographers should also pack their cameras, as the observation deck offers a clear view of the moon, weather permitting.

If you’re with your partner, pick up a love padlock at the adjacent souvenir shop and attach it to the railing around the Bell of Happiness. Ring the bell for good luck in your relationship.

Note that the ropeway, cable car and observatory may be closed to the public in case of bad weather.

2. JR Tower Observatory T38

Did you know that Sapporo Station has its very own observatory? The JR Tower Observatory T38, located on the 38th floor, is an excellent alternative if Mount Moiwa is too much of a detour.

The observatory offers a 360-degree view of Sapporo and lets you see how the north, east, south and west sides of the city differ from one another. Keep an eye out for local landmarks, such as the Sapporo Okurayama Ski Jump — built for the 1972 Winter Olympics — which lights up after hours. On the south side, you’ll see the Susukino district and its iconic Noria Ferris Wheel (more on that next). 

The observatory has an on-site café where you can purchase hot and cold drinks before heading back down. The JR Tower itself has a plethora of shops and restaurants for those in a window-shopping mood.

3. Noria Ferris Wheel

The Noria Ferris wheel — the only Ferris wheel in Sapporo — is a local landmark and the symbol of Susukino, the city’s entertainment district. It sits atop the roof of Norbesa, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, and reaches a height of 78 meters above the ground. With one ride costing ¥800 and taking about 10 minutes, it’s an enjoyable and affordable impromptu evening activity. The 32 gondolas are climate controlled (a blessing in the winter) and gently float skywards, rewarding passengers with a beautiful view of Susukino. The Norbesa building itself embodies the culture of Susukino — home to everything from shops and restaurants to a bowling alley and a karaoke bar. 

Norbesa is easily accessible from Susukino Station and the underground walkways that connect various stations in the central Sapporo area

Susukino will leave travelers spoilt for choice when it comes to eateries — you’ll even find Sapporo’s very own ramen yokocho there. It’s also where many of the city’s trendiest nightclubs rule the night. We recommend planning a whole evening in the district.

Image courtesy of Sapporo Night Sky Cruise

4. Sapporo Night Sky Cruise

Our final activity is perfect for traveling couples seeking an incredible nighttime experience — or for friends or siblings keen for the same and happy to splurge on a ride through the sky. For a bird’s-eye view of the city, sign up for a Sapporo night sky cruise. Cruises run all year long and are especially beautiful in the wintertime when the city is covered in a fluffy layer of snow — and even more so when the city is celebrating the annual Sapporo Snow Festival.

Several packages are available depending on your desired date and time. You also have a choice between a helicopter and a Cessna plane. The route might differ from one aircraft to the other, so do consider which attractions you want to see when booking. Night cruises range from 10 to 20 minutes and ¥25,000 to ¥150,000 depending on the package. 

Both helicopter and Cessna flights operate from Sapporo Okadama Airport, which is just 20 minutes on foot from Sakaemachi Station on the Toho Line.  

For more travel inspiration and ideas for your next trip to Hokkaido, like and follow the official Hokkaido Love! Facebook page


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