Sapporo isn’t just all about snow, a perception that its tourism drumbeaters are eager to change. This week, Business Traveller tried a number of activities that are fun to do there during the summer, and came away impressed.
Okurayama Ski Jump
Want to feel the adrenalin rush of Olympic ski jumpers before the big lunge forward? You can – sort of – at the top of one of the venues of the 1972 Winter Olympics that netted Japan a grand slam of gold, silver and bronze in the 90-metre ski jump competition. Through special arrangement, a group can even be shown and pose for pictures at the actual point where the daredevil athletes launch themselves into mid-air before expertly plummeting to the ground below. To reach the ramp’s highest portion, visitors take a gentle, five-minute lift ride – two persons per car – that adds to the excitement. The Sapporo Winter Sports Museum in the same complex features memorabilia from the historic Winter Games as well as offers lots of virtual winter sports simulation activities.
For more details, visit www.okura.sapporo-dc.co.jp
Sushi and Sashimi Classes
Learn from a master sashimi maker the rudiments of preparing these staples of Japanese cuisine. Quickie classes are available from a number of restaurants in the area known as sushiyadori (“Sushi Street”). Don’t expect though to catch on at once as it takes a good decade to produce a specialist in this particular culinary art. The experience, however, is a great photo op, and the results, no matter the outcome, are usually consumed with much gusto.
If you prefer noodles, take your pick from 17 ramen shops, along “Ramen Alley” in Susukino neighourhood, each with their own signature items. While a number use pork infused broth as their base, Kuni Mitsu restaurant is the only one offering chicken broth. Opening hours are usually between 11am and even 5am to revive the most determined night owls.
The attraction is located at South 5-jo West 3-chome, Chuo-ku and is a three-minute walk from Susukino subway station (Nambuko Line) or a five-minute walk from Hosui Susukino subway station (Toho Line).
Snowbrand Ice-Cream Parlor
Hokkaido’s excellent dairy products find expression in parfaits of all kinds and heights, served at ice-cream parlors such as this outlet of the Snowbrand Milk Products group. If in a big group, why not order the over-the-top 80,000 yen (US$1,021) stunner (pictured above left) or the more popular 12,000 yen (US$123) “I am number one”. It’s summer and time for such over-the-top treats.
Sapporo Beer Garden
All the lamb-(or other kinds of meat)-you-can-eat and huge jugs of beer sets are the highlight of the Sapporo Beer Garden, next to the old brick chimney that in the 19th century spewed smoke from the brewing operations below. Now, it’s an evocative reminder of the pioneering days of Sapporo’s agricultural and dairy industry. There are different dining areas in the building, including the main Genghis Khan Hall, dominated by an enormous vintage copper beer vat. This is where much of the action takes place.
For more details, visit www.sapporo-bier-garten.jp
Wholesale Seafood Market
The Sapporo Central Wholesale Market (Kitanogurume) carries Hokkaido’s freshest catch from the sea – you can even see the King crabs and their relatives still active in a series of display tanks. Hungry? Head for the second floor to the restaurant that dishes up what you saw below, presented in sashimi bowl combinations. Those who eschew raw items, can request to get their orders grilled
For more details, visit www.kitanogurume.co.jp
After all that indulging, now feed the spirit, or at least imbibe some of the tranquility that this Shinto place of worship exudes. After viewing the main altar, head for the fortune box by the souvenir shop and drop in 100 yen (US$1.27) to pick up a folded piece of paper from the container and learn your “fate”. If negative, don’t fret. Simply tie the wad to a set of frames nearby where similar pieces of paper are tied to, and voila, the bad luck won’t stick – or at least that’s what the locals believe.
For more details, visit www.hokkaidojingu.or.jp
Margie T Logarta