I arrived in Sapporo on a cold day of March, leaving Tokyo’s early spring to land 1000 km up north. I must say I that I was more than suprised arriving in Chitose to discover the ground covered with snow and the thermometer indicating a temperature close to 0°C. Avoiding Japan’s scorching summer was the whole idea behind my decision to move to Hokkaido, but still the change was drastic.
At first glance, Hokkaido’s biggest city reminded me of some russian cities : wide roads, lots of concrete, a large underground network and of course, the whole thing covered in snow. Days pass and I start to understand how the city works. Its core consists of a walkable area between the main train station and the district of Susukino. Lively, crowded, full of shops, restaurants and other amusement venues, this part feels like the rest of Japan I knew so far. However, stray a little further and you will find almost only residential, quiet districts. Despite being inhabited by more than 2 million people, Sapporo has something of a country side vibe. People seem more relaxed and friendly ; you are more likely to run into someone you know as well as having common acquaintances ; there is a lot of parks inside the city which itself is surrounded by wild nature, mountains and forests.
Located a few minutes away from Sapporo’s beating heart is nested a cute and homy guesthouse : Waya. This backpacker’s haven is the result of the common work of a lot of people who participated in its foundation and added one by one their own touch to the place. Wood is taking a huge part in Waya’s style, creating a homy and relaxed atmosphere in this shed-like building. Every morning at Waya feels like a Sunday morning. Start your day with a nice cup of coffee and fresh toasts. Guests who didn’t know each other last night are talking like long-time friends around the kitchen table. The sun lights pierces through the window as you hear the clamer of people playing cards in the common room. Light music is playing, some people are reading travel guides under the kotatsu, asking for recommendations while others are narrating their last adventure in another corner of the world. You feel relaxed, at ease, that you belong here. This is Waya…
After waking up at your own pace, you have the day for you to enjoy ! Spring has sprung and the sun is shining. What about a stroll around Maruyama park and the famous Hokkaido shrine ? There are many sites to visit in and around the city. Meeting some friends to go shopping in Tanukikoji would also be nice ? Of course you will have to stop for lunch and dinner ! Miso ramen at Yukikaze, Soup curry at Samurai or some top-notch sushi at Toriton. Sapporo is home to such a variety of delicacies that you will find each day something different to satisfy your appetite. Feeling like having fun ? What about watching a movie at Cinema United or Frontier ? Let’s head to Susukino for some karaoke with all-you-can-drink offers before hitting the dancefloor or enjoy some bowling at Round 21 !
This is Sapporo : a laid-back, human-sized city, far from Tokyo’s crazy lifestyle. This is home.