Japan in the fall is beautiful, and most cities have something unique to offer visitors. Sapporo is no exception. This mountainous northern Japanese city is famous for its beer and winter skiing, but come fall there’s a different kind of energy reverberating through its streets. There are dozens of iconic things to do in Sapporo this fall, starting with the best places to view the changing leaves, through to vibrant food festivals and the famous Sapporo Autumn Fest. The Japan fall season typically takes place between mid-September and November, and regardless of your interests, if you’re wondering what to do in Sapporo during the fall, these ten items should have you covered.
Sapporo Autumn Fest
Sapporo Autumn Fest is perhaps one of the most famous reasons to visit Sapporo in the fall. This lively festival takes place from the 6th to 29th September in Odori Park, one of the city’s year-round attractions. Come autumn, the park takes on a whole new look and feel. A wide range of food vendors set up stalls in the park, and it’s the perfect place to sample local delicacies. On offer is ramen, soup curry, and jingisukan - a popular dish in Hokkaido in September, October and November. There’s also a chance to sample local beverages, and even desserts, while taking in the beautiful surroundings and buzzing atmosphere.
Kamokamo River Nostalgia
If you’re interested in experiencing a unique aspect of Japanese culture then make a plan to head to Sapporo in early September. That’s because Kamokamo River Nostalgia takes place at the beginning of the month, usually over the first weekend. The event showcases Japanese culture, and it’s held at Higashi Honganji Temple - the oldest Buddhist temple in Sapporo, as well as Shinzenkouji Temple, famous for its wooden statues. Throughout the event, you have the opportunity to participate in tea ceremonies, Japanese papermaking classes, and letter carving lessons. There are also performances of traditional Japanese music to keep you entertained throughout.
Nakajima Koen is one of the city’s best parks, and it’s particularly spectacular as autumn takes hold. It’s a tranquil space perfect for recharging your batteries with a leisurely walk. During the fall it’s one of the best places to witness the changing colors of the leaves, and you can also rent a boat and paddle around the pond. The Japanese garden in the park is an amazing place to visit throughout the year, but it’s particularly attractive during autumn. Entrance is free, and there are several benches where you can sit back, relax, and take in the natural splendor surrounding you. It’s one of the best places to go to if you’re unsure of what to do in Sapporo during the fall.
A trip to Mount Moiwa is one of the unmissable things to do in Sapporo this fall. It’s a beautiful place to visit throughout the year, but in the fall you’ll be treated to the stunning changing leaves. From the top of the mountain, you’ll have panoramic views, including those of the city, and it’s a great place to visit during the day - particularly during fall. But if you run out of time during daylight hours, it’s also one of the city’s most popular nighttime viewpoints. If you’re visiting in the evening, though, be sure to bring warm clothing, as the temperatures can drop after dark.
Moerenuma Park is another beautiful park to visit in the fall. It’s famous for its large glass pyramid and is also home to various sculptures, fountains, a gallery, and other intriguing attractions. This is one spot which is unlike the traditional Japanese gardens you may be imagining of your trip to Japan; it’s a boldly designed space which feels much more modern and man-made than others you may have visited - it was actually created to cover the site of an old landfill! If you’re looking for a bit of exercise, there’s also a great walking trail that will treat you to some of the best sights of Japan in the fall, as many of the paths are tree-lined, and will be bursting with those beautiful fall colors.
If you’re interested in getting out of Sapporo for a few hours, then head to Jozankei Onsen. Here, you’ll find a hot spring perfect for the ultimate fall relaxation. It’s also one of the most vibrant areas to visit in Hokkaido in September, October and November. You can pick fruits, relax in the warm waters, and even visit the popular dam museum. Jozankei Onsen is just one hour away from Sapporo by car, and there are many convenient day trip options that leave from the city each day.
Sapporo International Short Film Festival
One of the best things for film fans in Hokkaido in October is the Sapporo International Short Film Festival. It takes place every year in October, and in 2020 it will be between 13th and 18th. You can expect screenings of short documentaries, animated movies, and a selection of dramas that last up to 30 minutes each. The films shown are from around the world, and many foreign-language films have subtitles, but it’s worth double-checking this ahead of time if you can’t speak Japanese.
If you’re a fan of running, then sign up for the Sapporo Marathon taking place on the 30th of August 2020. Every fall some 15,000 people run the half marathon route, making it one of the region’s most famous annual sporting events. There is also a full marathon option, and both routes lead you through some of the city’s most spectacular scenery and past notable attractions like Odori Park, Toyohira River, and Makomanai Park. If you’re more in it for the atmosphere than the distance, there’s also a selection of shorter fun runs through Makomanai Park perfect for the whole family.
Sapporo Art Stage
If you’re wondering what to do in Sapporo in November, then diarize the popular Sapporo Art Stage. It’s an annual event that takes place from the 1st of November through to early December. This is one of the main reasons for art and festival lovers to travel to Hokkaido in November. The streets and galleries of Sapporo come alive with performances, live music, and fine art installations. Many of the events take place outdoors, and it casts the whole city in a new light and breathes energy into the famous fall atmosphere.
Sapporo Chrysanthemum Festival
The chrysanthemum is one of the key flowers which symbolize Japanese culture, and festivals celebrating them are a hallmark of the Japan fall season. The Sapporo Chrysanthemum Festival takes place at the beginning of September and is the largest in Hokkaido. It culminates in a competition for awards from local government, with the main venue the Sapporo Ekimae-dori Underground Walkway. It’s open to the public and is accompanied by live music and a variety of traditional performances.
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