Sapporo, Japan travel guide and things to do: Nine must-do highlights

THE ONE PARK

Selecting just one park in a city that has an embarrassment of charming green spaces is actually a tough ask. However, we have to plump for Moerenuma-koen, for its unique design and sense of space. This vast green area on the city's outskirts was designed by Japanese-American architect Noguchi Isamu, and features sculptures and other artworks spread throughout the park's wide lawns and angular pathways.

See moerenumapark.jp

THE ONE RAMEN JOINT

Sapporo's famous Ramen Yokocho isn't just one noodle restaurant but an impressive 17 establishments peddling some of the finest soup around. Most stores specialise in miso ramen, a Sapporo original, though what they add to the broth varies: you'll find pork in some, buttered corn in others, local spider crab in some soups, and even juicy Hokkaido scallops in others. Arrive hungry, sample several.

See jnto.org.au

THE ONE TOWER

Sapporo actually has two towers – the Sapporo TV Tower, and the Centennial Memorial Tower – and opinion is divided over which provides the best experience. Though the latter has a more interesting design and is surrounded at the right time of year by fields of wildflowers, Sapporo TV Tower is the original (built in 1956), and provides great views of the city. It also has the advantage of being open – the Memorial Tower is currently undergoing renovations.

See tv-tower.co.jp

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THE ONE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Yes, chocolate factory. Say no more. Shiroi Koibito Park is a factory and theme park designed by Hokkaido chocolatiers Ishiya. It's built to look like a fantasy version of merry old England, with mock Tudor houses and fairytale turrets. It also has places to view the factory floor, and to watch while boiled sweets are rolled out and chopped into suckable hunks. And you can't leave without a box of Ishiya's famous butter cookies.

See shiroikoibitopark.jp

THE ONE BEER

Sapporo the city is home to Sapporo beer, which just happens to be one of Japan's best. You'll find this delicious brew on tap at pretty much every bar and restaurant in town. However, for the very freshest glass, head down to the Sapporo Beer Museum for a tour and then a tasting at the salon. Be sure to try Sapporo Classic, a  variety only available in Hokkaido.

See sapporobeer.jp

THE ONE MARKET

Hokkaido is all about seafood. This island prefecture is surrounded by bountiful seas, where crabs, scallops, sea urchins, salmon, tuna and more are harvested. The best way to get your hands on this briny bounty is to head to Sapporo's Nijo Market, where the daily catch is always on sale, plus there are several restaurants making the most of the local produce.

See jnto.org.au

THE ONE FESTIVAL

Though temperatures have plummeted by February each year, the population of Sapporo swells by a cool million as visitors flock to the Sapporo Snow Festival. This annual celebration features a hugely impressive collection of snow statues and ice sculptures, plus musical performances, food stands, children's games and more.

See  snowfes.com/english 

THE ONE LOCAL DISH

Miso ramen is a Sapporo original, but the crowd favourite in this city is a dish known as "soup curry". It pretty much does what it says on the box: a bowl of light, curry-flavoured soup is served with falling-off-the-bone chicken, plus fresh vegetables and a separate bowl of rice. Eat it at Soup Curry Garaku, washed down with a cold Sapporo beer, and you'll be one happy customer.

See s-garaku.com

ONE MORE THING…

Hokkaido is known for its seafood, but it's also famous for the quality of its dairy products and vegetables, which benefit from the island's rich volcanic soil. While you're in Sapporo, be sure to seek out local yoghurt and cheeses, and try as many fresh vegetables as you can, particularly Hokkaido potatoes, which are incredibly flavoursome.

See sapporo.travel

Ben Groundwater travelled with the assistance of JNTO, see jnto.org.au

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