Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture which is the second largest island of Japan, just north of the main island. Its location means during winter there is plenty of snow and February’s snow festival has become famous around the world.
Sapporo is also well known for being the host city for the 1972 winter Olympics as well as being home to Sapporo Breweries who make the popular Sapporo beer that is exported around the world.
Sapporo is one of Japan’s newest cities and was established as a village around 1866. Prior to the development of Hokkaido the island inhabitants was mainly made up of the indigenous Ainu people. Sapporo was chosen as the place for the islands capital as it is one of the few spots on the island that has large amounts of flat land.
Sapporo is unique as far as Japanese cities go because the city’s layout was well planned out in a grid pattern that today gives the city plenty of large tree lined avenues. The Sapporo city was designed by an American, and many of Sapporo’s historic buildings have a late 1800’s American feel about them rather than a Japanese design of most other Japanese cities.
Despite being Japan’s fifth largest city Sapporo is not yet serviced by the Shinkansen bullet train but by its own international airport. It’s said the domestic air route between Sapporo and Tokyo is the busiest in the world as the train to Sapporo from Tokyo can take over 10 hours. There are plans to connect the Shinkansen to the island of Hokkaido by 2015 but no date has yet been set to further connect the line to Sapporo. When the Shinkansen does get to Sapporo its estimated the travel time by train could be reduced down to almost 3 hours.