To wrap up my time in Sapporo I visited some of the sights around town that the folks at HUE said were worth a visit. Like Tokyo, Sapporo has a TV tower in the middle of the city – this time overlooking Odori Park. Odori runs several blocks above one of the cities busier subway stations, and is filled with sculptures and small monuments that represent parts of Sapporo’s history. It’s also not too far from the old clock tower – what one of our hosts called “one of the Top 3 disappointing tourist destinations in the city.” The park is worth visiting, but definitely skip the clock tower!
Just north of Odori is Akarenga, or the Red Brick building, an old government office that was once the centre of Sapporo and Hokkaido’s government. The park around Akarenga has some great little spots, and the building itself is packed full of art, history exhibits, and commemorations of partnerships and gifts from around the world. Hokkaido and Alberta are “sister provinces,” so there are several gifts from Peter Lougheed and other Albertans, and there’s also a number of artefacts from when Hokkaido hosted the G8 summit in 2008. Not all of the exhibits are fully bilingual, but enough of them are to make the building well worth a visit.
To the west is Hokkaido University’s Botanical Garden, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the country and well worth the hour or so it takes to tour around. The garden gives weekly updates on which plants are best to view at different times during the year – I just missed the lilac peak but the rose garden was a great sight to see. The university also has a small museum on the history of the Ainu, Hokkaido’s indigenous people, as well as an impressive (if slightly creepy) exhibit on the many animals that call Hokkaido home.
Another 40 minutes west (with a nice lunch break in the rain) is Maruyama Park, which is also home to the Hokkaido Shrine. The shrine is well-maintained and also has information on the site, Shinto, and life in Sapporo. Because there’s also a subway stop nearby it’s easy to get to so if you’re in Sapporo you should check it out.
Tomorrow I’m off to Hakodate, the final city on my trip before I head back to Calgary. Until then!