Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is one of Japan’s most pleasant and enjoyable cities, and Odori Park, the city’s central playground, is the main focus of activities and enjoyment, attracting residents and millions of visitors all year round.
Several factors make Sapporo a great place to live and visit. Besides the beauty of its centrally located Botanical Garden, the fun-filled evenings at the Susukino district, and the seemingly never-ending underground shopping centers, among other attractions, Sapporo has one of the loveliest central parks in Japan.
Sapporo was established as the capital of Hokkaido in 1869. Because the initial development of the city followed the advice of United States urban planners, the settlement grew based on a regular grid pattern. This makes Sapporo a most modern-looking city, very different from other traditional Japanese cities.
Odori Park - View of flower beds in the fall, sculpture of 3 Dancing Girls and the large Nishi-3 Chome Fountain in the background (not in operation).
Odori Park is about 100 meters wide and runs east to west for about 12 city blocks separating Sapporo into North and South sections. The park is as old as the city. It was created in 1871 and it originally started as a nearly empty space designed to function as a fire break.
Since the planting of the first flower bed in the spring of 1875, Odori Park has developed into the best park in the city. It starts at the foot of Sapporo’s TV tower in the East and ends almost 1.5 Km away at the location of the Sapporo City Archive Museum, in the west. Along the 12 blocks of the park, Odori offers large green spaces, playgrounds and flower gardens, lilac and cherry trees, fountains and water courses, and several interesting statues and monuments.
Odori Park. The Seion Monument is a stone obelisk built to honor the Emperor of Japan. It was completed in 1939.
The park is the location of most of the city's major annual events, including the Lilac Festival in May, celebrating the arrival of Spring and the blooming of the city’s official flower; The Yosakoi-Soran Festival in June, which combines colorful dances with traditional work songs sung by Hokkaido's fishermen; the Sapporo Summer Festival and Beer Gardens, from July to September; and the White Illumination Festival and Munich Christmas Market, with about 400,000 white lights, taking place between late November and the Christmas-New Year’s celebrations. However, perhaps the highlight of the year is the Sapporo Snow Festival in February, when the park fills up with about 300 huge snow sculptures and beautiful ice carvings, attracting about 2 million people from all over Japan and foreign countries.
Odori Park - Slow-moving water course – Sixty-meter-long artificial stream built in stone in 1989. It operates from late May to end of September.
Sapporo is located at latitude 44’04’’N, which is equivalent to Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada (Lat. 44’07’’ N). Winter weather in Sapporo is very cold with frequent heavy snow storms. Average yearly snowfall accumulation is about 630 cm. This places Sapporo at the top of the list of the snowiest major cities in the world. Nonetheless, Sapporo takes full advantage of the snowy weather by hosting in Odori Park the most important winter event in Japan, and one of the largest snow festivals in the world. This winter’s Sapporo Snow Festival will take place Feb. 5-11, 2013.