One of the few things that would usually pop-up in your mind at the mention of Japan is anime, sushi, hot springs and bullet trains. While it’s true that Japan is well-known for those things, there’s definitely more to the land of the rising sun that’s just waiting to be discovered.
For now, let’s dive into the prefectural capital of Hokkaido; Sapporo.
Although it boasts the magnificent advantages of having four seasons, we’ll be taking a closer look at summer time in Sapporo during the months of June to August. If you’re wondering if summer will be a deluge of rain or the appearance of sticky sweat, no worries; the outdoor temperature is usually non-humid and can even be pretty chilly once the sun sets.
Ice cream is really a must during the hot season and there’s just nothing like having a soft serve one that’s made from fresh Hokkaido milk. Really, this is the good stuff. This is what you’ll get if you visit Senshu-an (a Japanese confectionery shop). If you develop a hankering for matcha-flavoured ice cream instead, you can give Gyokusuien a try.
Let’s not forget the famous Sapporo beers that can be found freshly made at the source. Odori Park is a hotspot during summertime with plenty of outdoor barbeques and beer gardens springing up to greet the sun. All you have to do is sit back with your favourite drink (and it doesn’t even have to be a beer) and enjoy the endless waves of relaxed people and seasonal Hokkaido food.
Another recommended activity would be a spot of mountain climbing. Yes, Sapporo may be a city, but it has the advantage of being a stone’s throw away from magnificent climbs. One such example would be Maruyama Park (a beginner’s attempt), where well-constructed paths make hiking a breeze and will allow you to enjoy a peaceful retreat from the bustling city. It’ll only take you about 2 hours from bottom to top and back, making this an easy decision to make. Oh yes, there will be many chirping insects, but that’s really the beauty of it all, isn’t it?
To witness Japanese culture at the forefront, do make sure to be around during the Hokkaido Shrine Festival / Sapporo Festival (marking the arrival of summer in June). There’ll also be a colourful parade showcasing outfits from the Heian era during the last day of the festival. For plenty of games, fun activities and festival foods, do make a trip to Nakajima Park.
If you’re going to be around during the month of July, you’ll also get to experience the Pacific Music Festival (PMF). It features plenty of concerts throughout the entire month and showcases local aspiring talents. Odori Park is one of the places where you’ll get to enjoy this festival. Another great location is Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara (for indoor enthusiasts).
There’s definitely plenty to see, hear and indulge in during your time in this magnificent city. Just don’t forget to relax and soak in the freshness of the landscape and the bountiful harvests of Hokkaido at its very best.