Hokkaido is the Northernmost island of Japan. Hokkaido is well-known for its dramatic and unspoiled natural scenery that includes active volcanoes, large lakes and vast virgin forests. The capital city of Hokkaido is Sapporo and it is known for its unique history, striking natural beauty, and relaxed character. Many attractions unique to Sapporo contribute to the popularity of this well-planned city.
Sapporo is located in the Ishikari Plain in Hokkaido. Sapporo, has a unique history and natural beauty. Spring in Sapporo is breathtakingly beautiful, summers are mild and comfortable and winter offers visitors with some of the most enjoyable skiing resorts in the world.
Sapporo was built during the Meiji Restoration following an interest in the development of the frontier land. The city is known as being well planned. The development commission (Kaitakushi) divided the city into northern and southern sections with a "green belt". This belt became the Odori Park. The city was developed around the park in a grid pattern.
In a little over a century, Sapporo has grown into a lively modern city and is one of the main pillars of the nation's economic prominence. With a population of 1.8 million, Sapporo is Japan's fifth largest city.
Visitors to Sapporo will delight in the area's extraordinary natural surroundings within easy proximity to the city center. Spring is a time of blossoms and rich greenery; fair weather from May through June leads into a comfortable summer climate that attracts visitors both from within Japan and abroad. Sapporo is often compared to the premier skiing spots in Switzerland and the world's other "Winter Wonderlands."
The Sapporo Snow Festival, held annually since 1950, has become an international event. Snow sculptures made by corporation, professional and amateur teams are displayed throughout the city. The sculptures are very intricate and create a wonderful atmosphere when illuminated at night.
Sapporo has long been known for its many cultural exchanges with foreign countries. The buildings of Sapporo's Western-influenced architecture are unique in Japan. The city gratefully and proudly acknowledges the considerable contributions of foreign technical advisors at the early stages of its development. Experts from North America, England, Russia,Germany, Holland were among those who guided the progress of this frontier town into the modern city of Sapporo.
Known for its dynamic cultural activities, Sapporo annually welcomes visitors to a wide range of cultural events, including the celebrated Pacific Music Festival. In 1972 the city was chosen as the venue for the first Winter Olympic Games held in Asia. After the success of the Olympics, both the Asian Games and Winter Universiade have been hosted by Sapporo. The annual Sapporo Snow Festival continues to be a popular attraction that dazzles the many visitors who come to see this winter fantasy.