Hey everybody, it’s Matt here again, and today, I want to take you through Sapporo TV Tower at night in August. I hope you find it helpful for your own trip planning. Be sure to share it if you do, and check back for more articles and videos from our travels in Japan and elsewhere around the world.
Before I jump into it though, I just wanted to ask, what’s your favourite tower and why? The only others I’ve been up in are Calgary Tower, Sydney Tower, and Tokyo Skytree. So far, I’ve found each one to have unique flavours, but, even though it’s nowhere near the tallest tower I’ve been in, I love the intimacy of Sapporo TV Tower and the city planning around it. Let me know down in the comments at the end of this post!
Getting to Sapporo TV Tower
Sapporo TV Tower is located at the Eastern-most end of Odori Park in the heart of Sapporo. It’s conveniently located for public transport access with nearby bus stops and the subway running below it. Being in Odori Park, it’s also convenient to access by foot from many of the hotels in Sapporo that are located near the park.
There are a number of parking lots within 1 block of Sapporo TV Tower. The Sapporo Odori Underground Parking Lot is perhaps the closest. It runs under Odori Park and the Odori Subway Station, also connecting to Aurora Town underground mall. It has space for 366 cars and is across the road from Sapporo TV Tower.
Pricing starts at 390 yen for the first hour and 200 for every 30 minutes thereafter. You can also get one hour free by spending at least 2000 yen at one of the stores in Aurora Town. If you visit between 5pm and 10pm (closing time), the maximum charge is 1000 yen, and if you visit between 8am and 10am, you can get a half hour rate of 200 yen if you are there for less than half an hour.
The next closest car parks are to the south. There are around 4 lots in the blocks directly south of Sapporo TV Tower, including the Marui Imai and Mitsukoshi parking lots. These lots are located on either side of the Toho Subway line, with the Marui Imai being below the Marui Imai shopping centre, and Mitsukoshi on the opposite side of the road. Here, you can expect to pay 190 yen per 30-minute block. Most of these lots are underground, but there are some above ground spaces such as the one below that is almost opposite Sapporo TV Tower.
Getting there by public transport
The closest public transport link is via the Toho subway line, followed very closely by the Tozai and Nanboku lines. If you arrive on any of those lines you will want to get off at the Odori Station and head out of exit 27. This is a 1-minute walk from the Toho line or a 5-minute walk from the Tozai and Nanboku lines.
If you need to come in by train, it’s a 15-minute walk from the JR Sapporo Station and you will want to head out the South Exit.
Getting there by tour
There are some competitively priced full day tours available through Viator that include a visit to Sapporo TV Tower (however they do exclude the entry fee).
Admission fees and other costs
Standard pricing is 720 yen for adults aged 19 and over. For high school students the price is 600 yen, then 400 yen for junior high students, 300 yen for primary school students, and 100 yen for children aged 3 to 5. You can check the current entry pricing on their website and note that junior high and high school students need school ID to get their prices.
Before you arrive though, make sure you do some research as there are often discount tickets available. At the time of this article, the Sapporo TV tower website has a 20% discount available, just print out the voucher or present it on your phone when you buy your tickets. There are also often discount vouchers in the map books and promotional magazines that hire car companies include with a rental, so check them out to see if it works out any better for you.
Tickets can be purchased on arrival at the ticket counter or pre-purchased for a designated date through Klook. If you opt to pre-purchase via Klook, the pricing is the same as standard full price tickets, however, Klook guests get to jump the elevator queue.
If you book with Klook you will receive a voucher that you redeem at the ticket desk on level 3 of Sapporo TV Tower. Some things to note though is that when booking with Klook your ticket is non-refundable and the date cannot be changed. So you are sacrificing flexibility as well as a possible discount. However, you are gaining time, particularly if it turns out to be busy when you visit because you get to go straight up the lift on the next one that is available.
Normal opening hours are from 9:00 am to 22:00 pm every day of the year except for New Years Day, special events and maintenance. You can check any upcoming closure dates here.
About Sapporo TV Tower
Built in 1957 and standing at 147.2 metres high, Sapporo TV Tower is one of the most recognisable landmarks of the Sapporo cityscape. It’s similar in appearance to the Eiffel Tower and Tokyo Tower, though much shorter.
As we approached it, just on dusk, we got to see the lights come on and it really does look quite underwhelming when it is first lit up at night with just minimal lighting.
However, once all the lights come on, it’s quite dramatic.
There is an observation deck located at the 90.38-metre high mark, and it gives you a great view out over the Sapporo skyline, particularly down the length of Odori Park and looking towards the Mount Okura ski jump stadium.
For the Australians, in comparison, Sydney Tower stands twice as high at 309 metres with the top floor being at 268 metres high.
Access to the Sapporo TV Tower observation deck is via lift from the third floor, which is also where you can purchase tickets or redeem your pre-paid tickets.
From ground level, you can either take the stairs or a short lift up to the third floor.
It’s worth noting though that if you opt for the stairs, each floor is higher than normal, so the third floor is more like the sixth floor of a normal building. The stairs are also pretty steeper. A lot steeper than a normal staircase. There are lots of encouraging signs though to help motivate you on your climb!
Once you have your ticket, it’s a short 60-second ride in the elevator up to the observation deck. Along the way, you can enjoy the views and listen to the recorded commentary. English is available, and it provides a very brief overview of the history of the tower on the way up. On the way down, you’ll get to hear a little bit more.
When you get out of the elevator you are immediately greeted with the Sapporo cityscape, looking roughly east.
There isn’t a lot to see out this side at night since Odori Park ends in this direction at the base of the tower, and you are looking away from the heart of Sapporo’s nightlife. That said, if you go at night like we did, you’ll be pleased to see that the deck is minimally lit, meaning it’s easy to take in the city lights outside without reflections from inside the tower.
I found a lot of the little things that were lit up quite interesting, even though they aren’t as spectacular as the view over Odori Park. For example, the Sapporo Hall garden clock to the North:
Even the patterns of crosswalks at intersections seem so much more entrancing from this view at night time, like this one directly below the Northeast corner of the tower:
The deck itself features a lot more information about the tower as well as binoculars and a small souvenir store.
The main attraction, at least at night anyway, is the view to the west, looking down the length of Odori Park.
This side is the side with the most lights and the most interesting city viewing, including the NORBESA Ferris Wheel which features a constantly changing, illuminated pattern.
In the far distance, you can also spot the Mount Okura ski jump stadium, almost perfectly aligned with Odori Park and the Sapporo TV Tower.
While you are on the observation deck, if you find yourself needing to share the views on Instagram but you are running out of data, free wi-fi is available. It’s not super fast, but it’s decent for free wi-fi.
When you are ready to head back down, just push the button the lift, and/or wait in an orderly fashion for the next one to arrive. The lifts run up and down pretty regularly so it doesn’t take long before you are headed back to the third floor.
Once you get there, you’ll find yourself in the paid section, a section you can’t get into without an observation deck ticket. There is a much larger gift store here and you will find a lot of tower-related trinkets as well as wider Sapporo and Hokkaido related gifts.
One of the favourites in both gift stores is the TV Dad mascot. A personified TV Tower character who features everywhere in the tower, including in the cafe (which is closed at night).
He even has a little shrine on the observation deck.
Altogether, you could go up, take some photos, check it out, and head back down in half an hour if it isn’t busy. You could probably do it all in 15 minutes if there is no wait at all and you are really pushed for time. We took about an hour in total by the time we just enjoyed the city lights for a while and browsed the gift stores.
Cheap to access, especially if you have a discount ticket.
Some of the best views you will find of the Sapporo cityscape.
Can be a very quick destination to visit.
Open almost every day of the year until 10 pm.
Centrally located and extremely easy to get to.
You can queue jump if you book a set date in advance through Klook.
Low internal lighting at night for great night photos.
Free wifi on the observation deck.
Not much space on the observation deck if it is busy which could limit photo opportunities.
So, the big question, is it worth your hard-earned yen? For sure. It’s easy to get to and has great views out over the city of Sapporo. It’s also cheap, and extra discounts are easy to come by so you can save yourself some money too. The caveat though, is that there is not much space in the observation deck itself, so if it’s busy you might find you have to wait a little while before you can go up. Just be sure to allow yourself some extra time in case of a wait and you’ll be fine, or alternatively, book a fixed-date queue jump ticket with Klook.
Hotels near Sapporo TV Tower
Being located right in the heart of Sapporo, there are quite literally stacks of hotels within an easy walking distance from Sapporo TV Tower. We stayed in the Hotel WBF Sapporo Chuo which is located two blocks south of the tower. However, you will find there are hotels located all along Odori Park and within a couple of blocks on both sides.
For those that are thinking about visiting Shiroi Koibito Park after my article about it here and are not quite sure yet, the menu might help sway you towards it. The Chocolate Lounge does not feature any main type food, the closet you can get is the tea set. As the lounge name suggests, it is focused on chocolate. However, there are a wide variety of sweet dishes and drinks that incorporate milk, dark and/or white chocolate.
There are a lot of hotels right in the heart of Sapporo, and most of them are close to public transport. We wanted one within walking distance from the Sapporo TV Tower though, so we picked the Hotel WBF Sapporo Chuo / Hotel WBF Art Stay and booked a Superior Double Non-Smoking room. In addition to the excellent location, it also has high guest ratings on HotelsCombined and has car parking available for a decent price, something that can be in short supply around the heart of the city. It’s a little confusing when comparing prices because the hotel has recently changed its name from Hotel WBF Sapporo Chuo to Hotel WBF Art Stay. On some booking sites and Google Maps, it is still going by the old name.
A quick question
If you’ve stayed here as well, either in a deluxe twin room, or another room category, I’d love to hear what you thought about it. I’d also like to know what your favourite things to do in the area are. Let me know in the comments after this article!
This article is all our own experience. Our booking was paid for by us, and no part of it was free or subsidised. That said, many of the links below are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you click it and make a booking or purchase. I hope that you’ll use these links anytime you need to book a place to stay or activity! These small commissions help me to keep travelling so I can write and film more travel guides for you. I would never recommend anything I don’t or would not personally use!
Why we chose to stay at the Hotel WBF Sapporo Chuo / Art Stay
Our primary reason for selecting this hotel is the location. It is right in the heart of Sapporo, but more importantly, it’s in easy walking distance to the Sapporo TV Tower and Odori Park. Being right here is important because we were travelling by car and didn’t want to have to pay for parking both at the tower and at the hotel.
Our secondary reasons for this choice were:
Car parking is available on-site at a reasonable rate.
The high average ratings by guests. It gets an average overall rating above 8 according to HotelsCombined reviews.
The rate included breakfast.
We liked the look of the room in the photos; it looked modern and comfortable.
Everywhere was expensive during Obon Festival when we visited, but this was one of the cheaper options that met our criteria.
About Hotel WBF Sapporo Chuo / Art Stay and the Superior Double Room
This hotel is extremely well located in the heart of Sapporo and holds a three-star rating. In spite of a big sign, it’s a little bit inconspicuous from outside with a partially hidden entry-way, but inside there are some neat little surprises. Reception is open late but is not 24 hours, so make sure to confirm your check-in time with them in advance, and carry your keycard when you leave just in case. You need it to get back into the building at night. Opposite the reception desk is a nice little surprise. Free drinks and snacks in the hotel lounge!!!
Besides the obligatory coffee that you can expect pretty much anywhere in Japan, the free drinks include orange juice, wine, iced tea, Appletiser, mineral water, and assorted teas. Snacks include mixed nuts and other small finger foods. I found the nibblies quickly disappeared each time more were brought out.
The lounge itself is a surprisingly quiet, relaxing space. Even though it’s located at the front of the hotel and right next to reception, the area is relatively peaceful, and the lounges are comfortable. We had too much to do to spend a lot of time here, but it’s great that it is available to chill in during check-in and out or while you are waiting for a taxi.
I was surprised actually at how little English the front desk staff knew. I don’t expect anyone to speak English in Japan, but I’d read that hotels in Sapporo typically have someone on all the time that knows some English due to its popularity with Australian tourists in snow season. So just keep in mind that you might need to do some charades. That said, the check-in process itself was very straightforward. As is usual for foreign travellers in Japan, they have to take a photocopy of the passports of all guests, and they have English paperwork available for everything else.
The only thing that presented a bit of a challenge with the language barrier was organising parking for our hire car. We had to communicate how big it was so they could determine if it would fit. Fortunately, we were parked near their side window so I could point to it. Then they had to communicate how the multi-story carpark worked and what we had to do to get in and out. So, here’s a quick rundown on how it works:
Drive into the car park entrance behind the reception area.
Get your bags out of the car as well as anything else you will need for the night.
Wait for hotel staff to come out if they aren’t already there.
Once staff open the doors to the car lift, they will direct you to drive in.
Hop out carefully as the surfaces are uneven, and head on out.
They will give you a ticket that indicates what number you are as well as a receipt that assigns your ticket number to your room number. The ticket is required to get your car out.
When you need to get the car out in the morning, just give them your ticket at reception, and they will get your car ready for you. Once it’s all ready, someone will come and get you, and you are all good to go!
The Superior Double Room
The superior double room is quite small. We were in 602, which is at the end of a hallway.
The small size seems prominent because it has an enormous king size bed squeezed into it, which is fantastic! In spite of the cosy size, it does have everything that you need in it.
The decor is simple with an earthy colour scheme and floral patterns. It’s quite elegant and feels very upmarket.
The room includes the typical things you might expect, including a TV, fridge, work desk and air purifier. You’ll also find an ice bucket, shoe horn and polisher, and slippers.
You may have noticed there is also a tall window at the end of the room. It opens, however, it falls into the room about 10cm from the top, meaning you have to push the weight of the window back up to close it, and you can’t see much outside. What you can see is just the wall of another building about 1-2 metres away.
There is free wifi included with the room rate, and while the speed wasn’t brilliant, it was sufficient.
The bathroom is small, pretty similar to most Japanese pod bathrooms. However, that also means it has identical inclusions, such as a bidet toilet, and a little bath with overhead shower. It’s entirely sufficient for two people passing through but could start to feel a bit claustrophobic for an extended stay.
How did we sleep?
The bed is quite firm, but not hard. We found it quite comfortable as stomach sleepers. It is firmer than most hotel beds in Australia, but we got a great sleep. Not to mention, being a king size bed, you hardly even notice you are sharing it. Now, it isn’t a real king. It is two mattresses pushed together to make a king, so you do have that join down the middle. That said, the join wasn’t particularly prominent like it can sometimes be.
How was breakfast?
Breakfast was buffet style in the hotel restaurant, Tapio Sweets Garden.
The atmosphere here is serene. It is located on level three of the hotel and features a variety of both real and artificial plants and vines. These plants serve both to freshen the space and block out some of the city buildings across the road.
The tables look like they belong in an outdoor setting so combined with the plants you almost forget you are inside.
The food itself is decent and contains a lot of the typical breakfast buffet items you will find at most hotels around Hokkaido. The options include miso soup, salad items, fried food, steamed vegetables, rice, pickled vegetables, bread and bread rolls, teas and of course, coffee. A couple of the unique items we found here are Hokkaido Stew, a local dish, and kiwi jam, something I’ve never encountered before. If you are vegan, there are stacks of options here to enjoy!
Close to public transport.
Comfortable, big bed.
The lounge is great.
On-site parking available.
The room is quiet.
Buffet breakfast available with plenty of options.
Recently updated rooms.
Insufficient space for bags and suitcases even when we just had a small carry-on size suitcase each and a backpack.
Expensive around holidays and festivals.
We personally really enjoyed this hotel. The room was modern and comfortable, though definitely on the small side. The location was excellent with a MosBurger just around the corner for dinner and a short 5-minute walk to Sapporo TV Tower and Odori Park. The lounge downstairs was a pleasant surprise, and we enjoyed the overall hotel atmosphere. Breakfast was excellent with a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly choices. There was also plenty of English around the hotel with all of the hotel and breakfast information available in English as well as Japanese. For a 3-star hotel, we thought it was excellent and probably deserves a rating more like 3.5 stars.
Getting to Hotel WBF Sapporo Chuo / Hotel WBF Art Stay
If you are flying into Sapporo, you can rest assured that the main airport is nowhere near the city CBD, it’s technically in a different city altogether, Chitose. So to get to the hotel, you will want to either take a train, limousine bus, taxi or hire a car.
If you are travelling by train, the closest station is Odori Station via the Nanboku Subway line. From here, it’s a short walk. If you push it, you can do it in 3-5 minutes. If you take a more leisurely pace, it’s about a 5-10 minute walk.
So if you are coming from Chitose Airport by train, you will first take the JR Rapid Airport Liner to Sapporo Station and then change to the Nanboku Subway line. Look for exit number 35 as this is the closest exit to the hotel. All up it will take you about 60-70 minutes from the airport.
If you get the limousine bus from the airport, it will take about 70 minutes to get into the city. The stop you want is Susukino bus stop. Getting off here leaves you about seven blocks from the hotel, or 600 metres so you should allow about 10 minutes for the walk.
It’s about a 30-minute drive into the city, but this does vary depending on traffic. It can be hectic around the airport and on the expressway into the city so if you are arriving at peak times in the morning and afternoon this can be expensive and the train may be faster.
Prices vary quite a lot depending on what company you go with and how long you are renting. We usually book with Avis, but always check booking comparison sites, particularly in Japan where the multi-national providers aren’t quite so prevalent. In this instance, we booked with Orix through a Hokkaido-based travel agent called Shiretoko Tourist Co., Ltd using their Kakuyasu Rent-A-Car booking site. The airport depots are very helpful and have dedicated staff for foreign language guests, but you can still expect to spend a decent amount of time transferring by bus to the rental car depots and then going through all the paperwork. Once you are on the road, like a taxi, you can expect the drive to take about 30 minutes as long as you aren’t in heavy traffic.
You’ll take the Hokkaido Expressway into Sapporo, so In addition to the car cost, you will also have the toll cost. If you are a foreign tourist, you can get a flat-rate ETC card that will cover you for a designated period. Using one of these cards can work out the most economical if you are on the expressways a lot on your trip.
Hotel WBF Sapporo Chuo has 30 parking spaces available in a multi-storey car park (or as I like to call it, a car elevator). You can’t pre-book, so if they run out of space, you will have to park in another parking lot. There are a number of them within the surrounding area.
Rates and other costs
We researched hotels using HotelsCombined and ultimately booked with Agoda for AUD $237.27 for one night including buffet breakfast. The price we got was with a 10% off Agoda coupon. We were here during Obon Festival, making accommodation expensive. Travel away from festivals to save some money here. The room we booked normally goes for around AUD $90 – $100 per night outside of festivals and holidays.
If you need parking, the current rate in their multi-story carpark is 1200 Yen per night. You can expect to pay slightly more at some of the nearby parking stations.
Make sure you compare prices though as the best rates do vary, and some include breakfast while others don’t.
Check-in is available from 3:00 pm and check-out is by 11:00 am. Reception is open from 5:00am until 2:00am. However, the front door may be locked during night hours so make sure to let them know your expected check-in time.
If you’ve stayed at this hotel too, either in a deluxe twin room, or another room category, I’d love to hear what you thought about it. I’d also like to know what your favourite things to do in the area are. Let me know in the comments after this article! My personal favourite is Ishiya Chocolate Factory and Shiroi Koibito Park.
In August last year, we spent six days road tripping around the Northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido inAutumn. Our trip started and ended at the New Chitose Airport, and was focused around the Central and Eastern regions of the island plus the capital, Sapporo. If you are thinking about spending some time exploring Hokkaido, don’t hesitate. You will find some stunning scenery, and in Autumn, you will be treated to flowers from all colours of the rainbow plus, there is a good possibility you will spot some wild deer with their fawns and potentially even bears (you’ll definitely see them if you follow this itinerary). I can guarantee that even on a rainy day, you will find something amazing.
One thing to be aware of when planning a trip here is that while Hokkaido is not a huge place, it’s easy to be tricked into thinking you can get around the island quickly by road. Typically, the expressway speed limit is only 70km/h and the speed limits on other roads are 50km/h, so it’s not a quick trip. These speed limits are based on Winter conditions where the island is covered in snow and ice, but the limits remain the same all year round and it is tempting to go faster when you are driving there at other times but beware of police speed traps. So, that said, you can’t actually get around as quickly as you might think you can, especially given much of the expressways are also only single lane roads with limited places to overtake other vehicles.
Don’t worry about that though, just enjoy the trip, you can see so many amazing sights when you explore this unique island in a car. I will note though that in this itinerary we rarely dined at restaurants. Most of our meals were hotel breakfasts followed by instant food from convenience stores that we could easily eat while driving. Fortunately, I love maki rolls, so they made a quick, cheap, easy meal! I’m talking the equivalent of AUD $1-$2 per meal. One other thing to note is that this is a road trip, so this itinerary and times are based on having a car that you can drive yourself in. This trip would be much more difficult and require more time to do via public transport.
Just before I jump into it, I’ll also note that we booked this itinerary about two weeks before we went, and it turned out that the first weekend overlapped with Obon Festival (August 13-15), which meant accommodation was hard to find and expensive. We wanted to see the festival since we arrived on the 13th but sadly nothing happened in Sapporo at Odori Park even though it was advertised there would be.
This article is all our own experience. Everything we did was paid for by us, and no part of it was free or subsidised. That said, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you click it and make a booking or purchase. I hope that you’ll use these links anytime you need to book a place to stay or activity! These small commissions help me to keep travelling so I can write and film more travel guides for you. I would never recommend anything I don’t or would not personally use!
Anyway, enough of that, into the itinerary! We stayed at Tokyo Narita airport the night before (at the Toyoko Inn Kuko) we arrived in Sapporo, so our flight landed at New Chitose Airport at midday.
Expand the map to enable and disable each day.
Day 1: Chitose to Sapporo via Lake Shikotsu
73km’s, approx 1 hour, 31 minutes.
Arrive – Sapporo (Chitose), Domestic Airport Terminal, 1F
Stacks of food options in the airport if you are hungry, we had lunch at Cobara-Hetta Indian Curry (Domestic Airport Terminal, 3F)
Royce Chocolate World
Located at the terminal Connecting Path on 3F aka Smile Road.
Most of their dark chocolate is vegan.
There are other attractions on Smile Road including Hello Kitty Happy Flight and Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park if you have time. Unfortunately, we spent waaaaaaay too long at Royce Chocolate World!
Pick up a hire car. There are no hire cars at the airport itself, head to the hire car booths to check-in for your shuttle transfer to the car rental location. The hire car companies all have booths located at 1F near the ANA check-in.
Distance: 30km’s from New Chitose Airport, approx 36 mins.
A gorgeous lake to drive past where the road follows the edge of the lake for a while.
Day 6: Furano to Chitose via Shirogane and Bear Mountain
280km’s, approx 4 hours, 55 minutes drive plus stops.
Shirogane Blue Pond
Distance: 36.5 km’s from Fresh Powder, approx 45 mins.
A stunning, vibrant blue pond made famous when Apple included it as a wallpaper on OS X.
Get here first thing in the morning if you can to avoid the hoards of people. We arrived at 8:20 am and the car park was nearly empty. By 9:00 am when we left, the closest parking lot was full and the second one was almost full too.
Distance: 131 km’s from Bear Mountain, approx 1 hr 47 mins
Our flight out was at midnight, but we had to return the rental car by 6:00 pm to make sure we got on one of the last shuttles back to the airport.
This is a pretty full itinerary. The distances are not long, but the speed limits do mean it takes longer to get between destinations. In fact, almost every night we arrived at our hotel after dark with the exception of Furano where we arrived just before dusk. That said, we aimed to leave by 8:00 am every morning. We didn’t always leave that early, but if you prefer shorter days, be prepared to cut some things out. On a side note, a lot of these hotels have their own onsen’s, so you might prefer to take a little extra time in the evenings to enjoy that.
Been to Hokkaido and done a road trip? What are your must-see attractions? Let me know in the comments below!
Our next stop in Sapporo, after visiting Ishiya Chocolate Factory at Shiroi Koibito Park was the Mount Okura Ski Jump Stadium, officially, Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium and also known as Okurayama-Schanze. This massive (at least to us) ski jump is perhaps most well known from the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics.
It’s Christmas Eve, and that means tomorrow is Christmas! Looking back over the year, there are so many things that have made this year a challenge. Things that are painful, things that are stressful and things that are just frustrating. The year started out with news, both good and bad. My sister was in Australia for Christmas and New Years where she made the announcement that she was engaged. We were super excited!
Then the news came that my Papa (grandpa) was very sick. By the middle of January, the tests showed it was most likely some kind of cancer. By the end of January, he passed away after battling liver cancer. So we spent most of January away, visiting him and doing our best to support the rest of my family. With that backdrop, the year looked like it was going to be a bleak one. Looking back now, some of the first things that jump to mind do indicate it was a tough year.
Papa passed away, work seemed to be a constant tug of war between doing my job and not being permitted to do my job. My boss was fired, and work politics exploded before I was made redundant. In amongst all that work politics spread into church politics, making it almost impossible to attend any kind of church event without people asking questions. Then growths on Pops hands (my other grandpa) were diagnosed after many years as being tumours. Spots on his face that had previously always been diagnosed as fungal growths were rediagnosed as skin cancer, and he spent six weeks in hospital undergoing treatment.
Then, of course, my Nan had a heart attack, and my dad and father-in-law have both had health issues. It’s been a wild year.
As I have been looking back over the past week at all that’s happened, I’ve realised, there is a lot that has happened to be thankful for. So I was inspired. Many people and organisations are promoting various 12 days of Christmas events, sales, and so on. So I thought I’d put together 12 things I’m thankful for from the past year. It’s impossible to be negative and grateful at the same time. So if you are going through something terrible right now, I’d encourage you to think about the things that you are thankful for. No matter how small, it can all make a difference to how you are feeling and help you to cope with the tough times. If you need to write it down, write it down, and if you’d like to share anything in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
So, here are twelve things I’m thankful for from 2017 roughly in chronological order.
What can I say, I’ve been so blessed to have my awesome wife by my side, supporting me and working with me through all that has happened this year. I’m so thankful for her and everything that she does on a daily basis. Without here there is no way we could have done everything that I am thankful for, and so I am incredibly grateful that God brought us together and that we share the same beliefs and ideals.
2. We started an Airbnb.
Right back at the start of this year, we started an Airbnb. It adds a little bit of work to our weekly routine, and it took us a few months to really get it up and running well, but this provided some extra income throughout the year. It turned out, God knew we were going to need it later in the year when it got busy and helped to take a chunk of the financial pressure off after I was made redundant. On top of that, we’ve gotten to meet so many different people which is an ongoing fantastic experience!
3. My uncle got married.
The wedding was virtually at the opposite end of the state and turned out to be only three days before Papa passed away. We were able to get there though, and we streamed it to Papa in the hospital via Skype. I know he was so happy to be able to watch his youngest son marry a woman that shared similar beliefs.
4. Visited Noumea, Mystery Island, Isle of Pines and Mare with my parents.
For a few weeks, we thought we might have to cancel our booking. However, our cruise turned out to be perfectly timed. It was just under two weeks after Papa’s funeral before we were off on Voyager of the Seas with my parents. It was their first cruise and gave us the perfect opportunity to debrief and recover together after the stress of the previous month. This was also the first time we had been to Mare, so it was just such a beautiful way to celebrate Papa’s life with family. It’s amazing the way God lines things up.
5. We made a couple of new friends whom we value dearly.
We don’t generally socialise a lot, and we don’t quickly make new friends, so when we do, we are incredibly thankful to have met them and become friends.
6. Cruised to Hawaii via New Zealand and French Polynesia, visiting Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.
This was something we had booked a year in advance and fell towards the middle of 2017. It had been a dream of ours to visit Bora Bora, and the opportunity arose to go on a transpacific cruise with my in-laws that stopped in at three French Polynesian ports! It also took us to Hawaii where we spent a couple of days before flying home. Along the way, we also got to see some parts of New Zealand we haven’t explored before, so this was a fantastic trip we would do again in a heartbeat. It was such a blessing to be able to see such beautiful, unique parts of the world. While we were on the cruise, we also found out that my sisters wedding was going to be in Japan only a couple of months after we got home.
7. So, a few months later we visited Japan for my sister’s wedding and explored Hokkaido and Tokyo.
Her wedding was in Yokohama, but we’ve long wanted to go to Hokkaido, and it turned out to be a good time of year for it. So we spent 6 days road tripping Hokkaido before the wedding followed by a couple of days in Tokyo before heading home. This was such an excellent trip, and we felt so blessed to have the opportunity to explore another utterly unique part of this world while also celebrating my sister’s wedding.
8. Wifey finished up her work in Sydney and no longer has to commute there, meanwhile, I was made redundant.
She was commuting down to Sydney all the time, so she was always exhausted. We decided together that it was too much and was not good for her health, so she finished up. A couple of months later (and after all my work politics), I was made redundant. It’s not necessarily a good thing, but I really count it as a blessing because our stress levels both went way down. Kind of odd since we were both unemployed. That said, my redundancy is part of the blessing because that gave us a financial buffer to begin building back up my digital marketing business, TerraMedia.
9. I started working for myself again, running TerraMedia, the digital marketing business I had been running before I began working with It Is Written Oceania.
I loved my job, so I had no plans on working for myself again, but since doing so, my stress has been way down, and I’ve found ways to combine what I loved about It Is Written Oceania with my own business. So I consider this new chapter as a huge blessing that I’m very thankful for.
10. Nanna survived her heart attack, and Pops cancer treatments went well.
I’m thankful she recovered quite quickly from her heart attack, and she has been looking after herself since. Meanwhile, after Pops tumours and skin cancers were diagnosed, it seemed like the doctors might recommend against treatment given his age. They went ahead though, and while the procedure was awful, I’m thankful that it was successful and he is making a full recovery.
11. My little brother graduated university with honours.
My baby brother has been working hard for the last four years on his bachelor’s degree, and just a couple of weeks ago he graduated with honours. We were able to attend his graduation ceremony in Canberra and celebrate the end of his studies with him. We are so thankful we could celebrate the end of one chapter and start this exciting new chapter with him!
12. Blogging and vlogging.
I’ve gotten to explore YouTube and blogging so much more through my channel, this blog, and my TerraMedia blog since being made redundant. I love writing and sharing about the world, technology, and how I try to live a meaningful life, so it’s been such a blessing to have some time to explore this more since being made redundant. I hope you’ve found it helpful too!
As I was compiling this list, I realised there are so many things to be thankful for. Even just the fact that we are able to spend Christmas and the remainder of the year with family, including my sister from Japan. In spite of the sad events, there were so many times this year that my extended family came together and spent a lot of time with each other, something that doesn’t happen very often normally.
God provides things we don’t realise we need until after it’s happened, and whether you believe in Him or not, I think that looking over the year in review, there can indeed be things that line up better than we could have ever planned them ourselves. I hope you can find at least a couple of things that you can be thankful for this Christmas, and I challenge you to put down a list of 12. While you are thinking about it, you’ll find things that you just have to smile about, I’m sure.
And with that, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and leave you with this video of the Christmas light show at Melbourne Town Hall.
Hey everyone, it’s Matt from Still as Life, and I’m super excited to share this amazing place with you! In all honesty, it is my absolute favourite place in Sapporo on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
Have you ever felt like you were Charlie in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? If so, where? Let me know in the comments at the end of this page, I’d love to hear about it.
Getting to Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory
Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory are located in the north-west suburbs of Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido, Japan. It can be a little confusing to get to though because it goes by two names which vary depending on what you read or who you speak to. To be honest, I’m still confused. The signage at the factory calls it Ishiya Chocolate Factory, as does some of the material you are given if you take the self-guided museum tour. However, you won’t find it on TripAdvisor under Ishiya Chocolate Factory, TripAdvisor lists it as Shiroi Koibito Park, the same name used for the official website. My assumption is that since Shiroi Koibito is actually the flagship cookie product made by Ishiya, the factory and surrounding park have become known as Shiroi Koibito Park. So what does this have to do with getting there?
Getting there by car
Well, if you are driving there, and search on Google Maps for Shiroi Koibito Park, even though that appears to be the official name for it, you won’t find it. You need to search for Ishiya Chocolate Factory.
The full address is:
Ishiya Chocolate Factory
2 Chome-11-36 Miyanosawa 2 Jo, Nishi-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido 063-0052, Japan
You can also search for “White Lover Park” (the literal translation of Shiroi Koibito is “White Lover”), and Google Maps will find that for you too. One thing to note though is that the location marker for White Lover Park is located further away from the main museum and factory entrance so you may have to walk further if you park on that side.
When we arrived, we were directed to a car park across the road from the factory itself, located here:
Parking is free, and should you find yourself parked here on a rainy day, the thoughtful people at Ishiya have free umbrellas ready for you too!
Getting there by public transport
If you are travelling by public transport, then you are in luck because you can easily get here via the subway! If you take the Tozai subway line to the final station, Miyanosawa Station, it’s about a 15-minute ride from Odori station at the heart of Sapporo followed by a 700-750m walk to the factory. There is a slight uphill grade from the station, but it isn’t steep so most travellers should be able to do the walk with no trouble at all.
Not into the subway? You can also take the bus! Take the Chuo or JR bus from the JR Sapporo Bus Terminal headed in the Otaru direction and hop off at the Nishimachi Kita 20-Chome bus stop. It’s then about a 6-minute walk.
Getting there by tour bus
There are reasonably priced tour buses available from the Sapporo Station Bus Terminal operated by Hokkaido Chuo that include a stop off at Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory in addition to other city sights.
Half-day tour booking is available online through Klook for 2600 yen.
Full day tours that include Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory are also available. The half and full day tours can be booked directly with Hokkaido Chuo buses at the terminal, or through their website here, starting at 2600 yen.
The half-day tours operate in the morning, departing the bus terminal at 9:30am and returning at 1:35pm in Summer or 8:50am returning at 1:15pm in Winter.
Most of the bus tours offer approximately 60 minutes at the factory.
Admission to Shiroi Koibito Park is free. This allows you to access the external park grounds and experience the beauty and merriment that exists here, including the rose garden. So whether you come on your own or by tour bus, you know you don’t have to pay any more, unless you want to.
To enter Ishiya Chocolate Factory and the self-guided museum tour, there is a fee of 600 yen per person for people high school age and older. For children, it is 200 yen, and for infants 3 years and younger, admission is free.
It’s pretty cheap for what it is and in my opinion well worth it. If you are here on a tour bus though you will definitely want to keep track of time. It’s easy to spend more than an hour inside.
100 yen discounts for adults are common and can be obtained quite easily. If you hire a rental car, be sure to check the travel magazine that comes with it as these often include vouchers for Shiroi Koibito Park as well as many other attractions.
There are multiple dining options on site that are available at an additional fee, and there are also some activities available in the cookie-making workshop for an extra charge. If you go on a tour, such as the cookie-making lesson I mentioned above, then this is included in the tour cost.
Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory are open every day from 9:00 am until 18:00 pm with the last admittance at 17:00pm. The store is open an hour longer until 19:00 pm.
About Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory
A place of wonder
As I saw the building, entered the park and began to explore the wacky world within, it struck me.
If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were real, this is the closest experience to it that I’ve ever encountered.
Everything here is fun. It has been designed to entertain, educate, inspire, and bring out the inner child in everyone.
This place is where I had my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience of complete awe and wonder. Have you ever had that experience? If so, where? Don’t forget to let me know down in the comments below!
So what makes this place so magical? That is a long story that almost has to be experienced to really understand it!
There are actually five parts to this factory:
The Chocolate Lounge
The store and Candy Labo
The external park
Museum and factory entry are available for the small fee of 600 yen for adults which includes a Shiroi Koibito cookie each, and a “passport” to get stamped throughout the museum if you wish to.
The ticket desk is located at the museum entrance near the base of the clock tower. Make sure you have cash though as cards are not accepted. English is limited depending on who you speak to, but it’s easy to point to adults and children and show on your fingers how many tickets you need for each.
Once you enter, the first room is absolutely breathtaking and left us speechless…
The centrepiece of this room is the ornate, blue and gold Aurora Fountain situated below a detailed ceiling mural.
Made in approximately 1870 by the English Royal Doulton Company, this piece feels like it belongs in a palace.
The cornices are gilded and everything has been crafted with care and attention, even down to the regal doorways and fireplace.
An official photographer is available to take your photo in front of the fountain, both on their own equipment, and on your camera if you have one.
Around the outer edge of the room is a raised balcony that gets you up close and personal with the ceiling details and also takes you to the photo stand to buy your professional photo print if you wish to.
The Stained Glass Room
Next is the stained glass room, with stained glass ceilings and windows.
The detail continues here with delicate carvings everywhere!
This long narrow room takes you across the raised walkway from the museum entrance to the factory, but don’t worry the museum isn’t finished yet.
The Hot-Chocolate Cup Room
From the stained glass room, you step into the hot-chocolate cup room.
A room dedicated to the history of hot-chocolate cups.
There are cabinets full of cups and saucers from all over the world, some more than 100 years old.
This room is dedicated to the fineries of hot chocolate drinking with gold-inlaid cups, and finely painted porcelain. Feeling regal yet?
Enter the Demitasse-Package room. This is an interesting room focused on packaging used over the years. It isn’t just any packaging though. A demitasse is a small coffee cup, so the packaging is actually for small cups.
It is remarkably intricate and delicate.
Package Label Room
From chocolate to cookie packaging over the years.
There is a room dedicated to all sorts of historical boxes and wrappings. Some of them are remarkably detailed!
Of course, these rooms and the hallways are decorated with such detail, like these intricate sconces!
And then, of course, there is the ceiling!
Chocolate Time Tunnel
The chocolate time tunnel takes you through the historic process of converting cocoa pods into chocolate in miniature form. It’s actually quite cool.
Cookie Factory Production Line
On the other side of the Chocolate Time Tunnel is the Shiroi Koibito cookie production line.
It takes you through the process right from the start. Unfortunately, the chocolate making and first part of cookie production, the mixing, is only shown in diagram form.
From there though, you can see just about everything and even touch a few things.
The first thing you can see is the chocolate conching, preparing it to just the right smoothness for the cookie centre.
Next is the baking room, a giant series of ovens.
You can’t see a huge amount inside, but it also has a touch panel to feel the heat.
Next up, you can see the chocolate being sandwiched between the cookies while they are still warm.
From here on, the production line has been decorated with children having fun, sculpted and painted all around the upper sections of the walls.
It is really, really fun just looking around and seeing all the different activities that these children are getting up to.
Of course, it’s also interesting to watch the workers making these yummy cookies.
Next, the cookies go through a chiller for 10 minutes to cool them down to 6 degrees or less and set the chocolate.
There is a touch point here too so you can feel how cool it is!
Continuing on, there are more children dancing around the walls, watching the production as we enter quality control and packaging.
The cookies are checked for imperfections or damage, tested for weight and thickness, and then fed into the packaging machine.
Next, they are run through a metal detector and an x-ray to check for foreign contaminants.
Finally, they move along to boxing.
Just outside the Chocolate Lounge cafe are, there is actually another piece of the museum, sugarcraft.
This sugarcraft is insane! There are detailed piano’s, dolls, enormous cakes, detailed flowers and much more!
The Chocolate Lounge cafe
A trip to Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory would not be complete without a pit stop at the Chocolate Lounge.
Here, you can indulge in a variety of sweets, from enormous parfaits to chocolate fondue and other assorted desserts.
Don’t go past a hot chocolate though. This is what the Chocolate Lounge is known for, and there are a variety of gourmet options to choose from.
I went with the dark chocolate “Valrhona”, and wifey opted for the milk chocolate “Felchlin”. We also got one of the small, Gianduja Chocolate parfait’s to share.
Depending on when you go, the cafe can be very busy, so be sure to allow a good chunk of time for it. It took us about 10 minutes to get a seat, and another 30 minutes to place our order and enjoy the decadence.
The process is:
Line up to put your name down on the list for a table.
The attendant will take your name and the number of seats you need – to our amusement, the attendant spoke no English and had me write down my own name amongst a sea of Japanese writing.
You can either wait and if you are lucky there might be a space available on the waiting bench, or you can wander through the sugarcraft section.
Once a table is ready for you, they will call your name out. If they don’t speak English, they will probably just came and find you like they did for us (it might not hurt to stay somewhere obvious)!
Once you are seated, you will be given menus, and soon after, your waiter will take your order. They will also leave a slip on your table.
Times vary, and since the small parfaits are pre-made they come out quite fast. Freshly prepared items like the hot chocolate can take longer if the cafe is busy. We waited about 15 minutes for ours.
Your waiter will confirm if there is anything else you need, and when you are ready they will take the slip of paper and come back with your bill.
Take the bill to the cashier and pay for your mouth-watering treat.
Our hot chocolates came out in Shiroi Koibito’s signature, gold-detailed mugs, including gold embossed saucer and gold stirrer.
They were also served with a syrup the waiter explained was an orenji sweetener. For the uninitiated, it turns out that it’s a sweet orange syrup that gives your hot chocolate a Jaffa flavour.
Our parfait came out with two beautifully presented parfait spoons, and we were blown away.
The parfait is unbelievably rich. It was a struggle for us to get through it and the hot chocolate, but we made it. It also turns out that the chocolate syrup used in the Gianduja parfait has a coffee liqueur in it that wifey was not keen on.
As we waited, and while we were enjoying our treats, we were amazed at the detail-rich finishings in the cafe.
As with the rest of the museum and factory, there are intricate carvings and sculptures all around the large atrium-style room. The raised ceiling I supported by Romanesque columns and the large, window wall looking over the park makes it feel extremely open.
Much to our delight, we were treated to a musical show opposite the window.
The wall below the clock-tower opened up and a number of robotic animals and people appeared, dancing and playing instruments to a catchy tune.
It was one of the most enjoyable dining experiences I’ve had, and if you loved the mugs, you can take one home with you! They are sold at the cashier’s desk for 8100 yen each.
The Inner Court
As we made our way down the stairs from the cafe, we saw a little bit of a show in the Gramophone Theater situated beside the stairs.
At the bottom, they opened out to the gallery on the second level above the inner court. This space gives a perfect photo opportunity for the beautiful court stairs in Tudor House.
The details and regal setting continue here with a hot air balloon chandelier and unbelievable wall and roof details.
If an entertainer is working in the court it also gives you a birdseye view of their act. While we were there, a mime was doing his thing, and he did a great job of it!
The Toy Museum
On the other side of the gallery, the museum continues. This section is actually free to access if you come in via the Tudor House store entrance. Here, it takes a step back from the world of chocolate, but doesn’t leave fun behind at all!
This museum is a museum of toys and Americana.
There are action figures, superheroes, tin toys, planes, ships, dinosaurs, beetles, animals and more!
There are even JFK memorabilia and moon landing artefacts.
Downstairs, on either side of the inner court is the store. This is also accessible through the Tudor House entrance and is free to get into.
Here, you can purchase from a huge selection of Ishiya chocolates and Shiroi Koibito biscuits.
Also in Tudor House is Candy Labo. Another space for fun and entertainment with colourful candies everywhere.
There is a regular candy making show, and of course, it can all be purchased. This is not much different to Candy Kitchen at Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana, so we didn’t wait for the next show to start, but it’s something that kids especially would love!
The Hells Angel
I really don’t know what this has to do with anything at all, but as we made our way out, we were met with this intense, piped motorbike sculpture by Nathan Watton called “The Hell’s Angel”.
The Park (Shiroi Koibito Park)
The outdoor park area of Shiroi Koibito Park is freely accessible and can be entered without a museum/factory tour ticket. If you don’t want to spend the money or don’t have time to do the full tour, this park is worth a visit on its own, and it will be different depending on what time of year you visit.
We visited in early August, and as you can see the flowers are in full bloom, so the park is full of vibrant colour.
It’s an unbelievably beautiful place. Even without the flowers though, you can enjoy the unusual combination of architecture.
With inspiration from all over the world, parts look like factory, other parts like large houses, and still others like they could be from a town hall.
There are street lamps dotted around the park, and with their gold detailing and almost British appearance, they could be straight out of Narnia.
There are cubby houses and tiny spaces everywhere with matching tiny tables and chairs, including under flower gardens, that make it feel almost like you are in the Shire from Lord of the Rings (AKA Matamata in New Zealand).
Oddly enough, there is an apple tree garden as well, and within that garden are English and Japanese Police Boxes.
These little moles detect motion, and if your arm strays too close to an apple, BOOM! Officer Mole will pop up and have words to say to you.
There are tiny white picket fences, a fairy tale bridge, a double-decker London bus, and even a tree house.
There is a lily-filled pond with a fountain and hippos.
There is a beautiful rose garden, and vines are climbing the walls of buildings, making them almost blend into the gardens.
Here is also the second professional photo opportunity available, in front of the rose garden with the intriguing architecture in the background.
If you are keen, you can also sit on the Shiroi Koibito Park love seat and take your picture with a loved one!
Shiroi Koibito Park Shows
Spend at least 15 minutes here and you will be treated to the show! This is the same show we saw from the cafe, but there is so much more to it. Make sure to check out the YouTube video above, particularly the last minute of it to get an idea of the show!
From the cafe windows, we could only see the portion in the clock tower.
Outside the stained glass room is a trio of robotic trumpeters, and above the flower garden is a dancing chef quintuplet!
The tune is a real earwig and was stuck in our heads for days afterwards!
Don’t leave just yet though. After the main show finishes, the Grand Meister starts up below the clock tower.
He plays a tune on his golden music box and releases bubbles from the top of his gazebo.
It’s enough to bring out the inner child in anyone!
Well, we did have to leave eventually, but we took some time to check out the details outside the factory. Even here, the fun continues. The fence is topped with golden carved cats and there are rows of flower-filled window boxes.
The gates are gilded and have so many little details in them.
Even the drain pipes are decorated with gold-work and form a part of the regality of this building.
It’s no wonder that the GPS in our hire car shows the park with an “art” symbol, it really is a work of art itself.
I love the fun of it. Every aspect of this factory has been designed with the intention that it be enjoyed. It reminds of the Cadbury “Joyville” ads, and Cadbury could definitely learn something from here because to me, this place is the definition of “Joyville”, something Cadbury’s own factories are not.
Easy to get to by car or train, very close to a subway station.
Suitable for all ages.
Free options available that are worth seeing.
Cheap entry tickets with discounts readily available.
Lots of readily available English information and signage.
Chocolate, cookies, chocolate, oh and chocolate.
Elevators are available for those with prams or disabilities.
No matter what time of year you go you will get a different experience in the gardens.
Open every day of the year.
There is a lot to take in, and it may be a challenge for children to take the time to enjoy the museum sections.
You may put on weight.
The gardens vary from season to season so to see in flower or to see the Winter decorations, you have to plan around the time of year.
Very limited English speaking staff.
On TripAdvisor, Shiroi Koibito Park is marked as a place to shop rather than a thing to do (incorrectly, in my opinion), and within shopping, it is rated number one in Sapporo.
I think it should be categorized as a thing to do as it is far more than just shopping, and for my vote, it is the number one thing to do in Sapporo by a long way.
It’s entertaining for everyone, easy to access and cheap. The only downside is that you could spend far too long there without realising it!
As such, I would rate it my #1 must-see attraction in Sapporo.
Hotels near Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory
There aren’t any hotels within walking distance of Shiroi Koibito Park. The closest ones are near JR stations, and there are some nearish to the Tozai subway line. For the most choice, I’d look towards the city centre near a Tozai subway station. The options below are the closest and within walking distance of a subway station.
I’d love to hear about your Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment, if you’ve ever had one. Let me know down in the comments below. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory if you have been here.
Before we jump into it though, I’ve got a question for you:
When you are travelling and on a schedule, what kind of activities do you prefer? Do you like to just chill, or do you prefer something fast paced? Natural or cultural experiences? Something else? Let me know down in the comments below!
Getting to Moerenuma Park
This 188-hectare park is located approximately 11.5km’s from the heart of Sapporo, which is about a 20-minute drive. Don’t trust Google Maps for your directions though if you search for Moerenuma Park because Google Maps switches from driving to walking and takes you in the long way around. Instead, search for one of the car parks. “Moerenuma Koen Azuma parking lot” is at the eastern entrance, and is the one we went to as it is the most direct when coming from Sapporo CBD. This parking lot also gives you road access to drive into the Glass Pyramid car park.
Sadly, there is no train or subway access to the park, but you can get there by bus, so those limited to public transport need not despair.
First, get to the Kanjo Dori-Higashi Subway station on the Toho Line. From there, you can catch the Chuo Bus, either Higashi 69 or Higashi 79, and they will take you out to Moerenuma Park’s east entrance. The stop there is called “Moerenuma Koen Higashiguchi” and it’s about a 25-minute ride on the bus. From there it’s a short walk to the park. You can also take the 26 from Asabu Station on the Nanboku subway line.
If you don’t read Japanese, it can be a little tricky to find the timetable online and a map of where the bus stops. So, check here for the best English map I’ve found. Depending on how good your Japanese is, or how well you do at deciphering Google Translate, you can check the 69 and 79 bus timetables here.
Admission fees and other costs
Admission is free, and if you drive, parking is also free, so your only costs are optional ones, like going to the restaurant, or hiring a bike, which you can do from the Koen Azuma parking lot. Bicycle hire for a two hour period costs 200 yen or 300 yen with a baby seat. If you are planning to check out the entire park, this could be a great option to do it a little quicker. Much of the park is level, so it should be an easy ride.
Moerenuma Park is open 7:00am to 22:00pm, 365 days a year, however, the main entrance closes at 21:00pm, so no late night driving in.
The west and south entrances shut at 19:00pm and are also closed during Winter.
Some of the attractions within the park have different and varying operating hours. Check the Moerenuma Park website for the current times.
About Moerenuma Park
Moerenuma Park is unique because it has been built over an old garbage dump that had been used as reclaimed land from 1979 and with the construction of a park beginning in 1982. The final park design was done by Isamu Noguchi, and work on implementing his designs began in 1989 with the park opening in 2005. Unfortunately, he passed away and never got to see the final park.
One of the things that’s pretty cool about Noguchi’s design is the intention that the entire park would be a sculpture in and of itself. Surrounded by Moere Marsh and with the pyramid motif throughout the park, it makes sense that there would be a “mountain” to give you a good vantage point while continuing the theme. Mount Moere is only 62m high, so it’s an easy paved walk to the peak.
If you aren’t really into cycling or walking around the park, you can drive into the heart of it, to the Glass Pyramid car park and walk from there directly in.
The pyramid, nicknamed ‘Hidamari’, or sunny spot, houses a museum, shop, gallery and restaurant.
We were keen to have a look inside but unfortunately for us, we were there too early and it wasn’t open yet.
Some of the other park attractions include the Sea Fountain water show, the artificial Moere Beach, Play Mountain, Cherry Tree Forest, Tetra Mound, Aqua Plaza and the Music Shell.
We were planning to see some more of the park, but, it was raining quite a bit, which it turns out is common in the Summer here. So we just saw what we could without getting wet and decided to travel on to our next destination, Ishiya Chocolate Factory at Shiroi Koibito Park.
So, we saw the Glass Pyramid, the Tetra Mound, and the Music Shell. We could also see Moere Mountain, though we didn’t realise that’s what we were looking at! Really there is a lot more to see here, but if you have a wet day like us (which is highly probable in Summer), you might want to rethink your plans.
Cheap! Free admission and free parking.
Easy to access by car. Can drive right into the centre of the park if you need to.
Can be accessed by bus.
A beautiful green space.
Interesting for those with an eye for art and architecture due to the use of the pyramid motif.
Located out of the city, away from many of the other attractions.
Limited public transport options.
Walking/cycling access only to most of the sights (only a con if it’s raining, you are limited on time, or you have mobility impairments).
Takes a lot of time to see a small number of things.
So from what we experienced, I’d say that Moerenuma Park is a peaceful place that does feel very open and certainly helps reconnect you with nature in the built-up city of Sapporo.
It is a large, green space that strikes me as being perfect to spend the day at with your family or church friends, or anyone else you enjoy spending time with. Take a picnic lunch and just relax, particularly in the spring months when the cherry blossoms come out and the rain is less frequent.
For a tourist on a tight schedule though, it’s definitely something to miss, particularly if you get a rainy summer day like we did. There are some cool ideas in it and as a park, it’s great, but it is a fair way out of the city and there are plenty of exciting things to do and see in Sapporo that will keep you busy. To be honest, I don’t think it warrants a #1 rating on TripAdvisor. If you are travelling that way anyway, then I’d definitely check it out, but if not, save yourself the time and effort.
For our #1 thing to do in Sapporo, stay tuned. I’ll link to it right here when it’s up!
Hotels near Moerenuma Park
Unfortunately, there are no hotels in the immediate vicinity of Moerenuma Park, so if you are travelling by public transport, you may be better off with a hotel near the subway line like one of these ones.