Sapporo city never sleeps! You can feel this atmosphere right in the center of downtown Sapporo all year round. It hosts some of the most entertaining & eye-catching annual festivals of Hokkaido such as the World’s greatest Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) in the winter, Sapporo lilac festival for welcoming the flower season in the spring, Sapporo summer festival for celebrating bon odori dancing in the summer, and finally when autumn rolls in here it comes with a festival offering you try the local cuisines of the whole Hokkaido region. This autumn festival is known as the Sapporo Autumn Fest.
I myself feel very lucky to attend the festival every year. Though, I am not that much serious foodie lover like others who usually travel every corner around the world to discover the regional local cuisine of a country. To me it is great meeting with strangers and helping them how to discover the Sapporo city in a stylish way including directing them find out the hidden attractions. The festival makes me view the autumn foliage in Odori Park as well. In fact, most of the residences of Sapporo enjoy hunting Momijigari there. It is kind of a new custom to go out to the festival venue and have some foods as the festival continues since the day it starts and till the day it ends.
When is Sapporo Autumn Fest in 2016?
Sapporo autumn fest is usually held at the beginning of fall season. This year, 2016 Sapporo Autumn Fest will be held in Odori Park, from September 9 to October 1. It sounds great, hah?! This is an impressive food festival which brings all the Hokkaido’s gourmets in one single place and making it one of the best things one could do in September and October in Sapporo city. Be yourself well prepared to experience it. In autumn, thousands of visitors arrive in Sapporo in order to see the event and taste the various delicious local dishes. Book your hotel room, buy JR pass in advance to get to the sites located outside Sapporo, and make a list of your Hokkaido’s favorite dishes and foods you could try. Good luck!
Why you should Visit Sapporo in autumn?
Of course the answer is for the autumn fest. Hokkaido boasts one of the Japan’s greatest cuisines. It is the second largest island of Japan and its cuisine can be divided into several locations with distinct style of cooking. The ramen dish you have in Sapporo is different than of the Asahikawa ramen. It is true that their taste and ingredients are different but delicious at the same time. It is because the ingredients used are based on the natural and agricultural products of each area.
Have you ever heard of the Japan’s northernmost city, Wakkanai? The city is very famous for catching highest quality of sea urchin and salmon roe. Though, they are not only caught in this area, for example Nemuro – the easternmost city of Japan is said to be another contender of producing abundance of sea urchin. Again, having sushi and sashimi topped with sea urchin in Wakkanaki is tastier than eating them in Nemuro. This is my own opinion though, what about you?
Not all of you have a golden opportunity to spend a month in Hokkaido to discover it from A to Z unless you are sponsored by someone to whom you work with as a photographer or professional independent tourist. Visiting Hokkaido for a month would be very expensive, I think you know that. Most of the Hokkaido visitors stay a week or less and only explore certain areas on this huge island. Someone discovers only the central part while other goes to eastern side of the island. It actually depends on their itinerary and on what they like to see and do. For example, if you are in Asahikawa now, you can try its famous ramen in a restaurant there but there is no chance of having Wakkanai sea urchin in the same restaurant. To make it possible you are suggested to come to join in the Sapporo Autumn Fest where Hokkaido’s best regional dishes are brought to you by the chefs and manufacturers.
In addition, Sapporo is said to be one of the top 10 destinations in Japan. The cool weather, shopping arcade, restaurants & bars, historical attractions, seasonal beauty, and park make the city quite impressive place to travel all year round. Those who think that Sapporo is not a perfect holiday destination in autumn should change their mind immediately, yeah right now!
About the Festival and Different Venues
Autumn is the harvest season. Everyone prays for having a good harvesting year, especially the farmers who feed the nation and contribute on Japan economy. Hokkaido’s vast land is quite suitable for cultivating variety of crops. As Hokkaido is surrounded by the seas, abundance of seafood can be found. So we can expect to experience a wide range of dishes, including drinks, vegetables and fruits. However, Sapporo Autumn Fest is one of the top food festivals in Japan that gives us the opportunity to enjoy having the foods gathered from all over Hokkaido and served in Sapporo’s Odori Park.
In Sapporo, there was no prominent autumn festival back in 2007. In comparison with rest of the seasons, autumn was not amusing as it should have been thought. Thinking of this much needed stamina to make the city entertaining Sapporo Autumn Fest was originated in 2008. Since then the festival has become a very popular autumn event and number of visitors have increased over time. During the festival, the best thing you could do is that you can satisfy your stomach and buy some as souvenirs to take them home. I noticed that many visitors were surprised with the menu they were shown by the food vendors’ waiter and waitress.
You head towards the Odori Park that is a narrow strip of green space which stretches about a kilometer. The Sapporo TV Tower is located on the east side of the park. If you have not been to any biggest food festivals yet then the atmosphere you experience there is out of your imagination. Thousands of visitors visit the site and they are happy to have their lunch and dinner on the tables decorated with tents and chairs in the park in front of many food stalls. The main venue, Odori Park is divided into several distinct venues such as 1-chome, and then again from 4-chome to 11-chome in which various seafood dishes, agricultural and livestock products, wine, beer, sake, dry foods, sweets, foreign cuisines, ice cream, candies, processed foods and other items from all over Hokkaido are served. Over 100 municipalities from Hokkaido prefecture come to Sapporo and represent their local specialties to the world.
Have you heard of the greatest Oktoberfest, held in Munich, Germany? I have heard of this but never had a chance to see it in real life. Though, you can feel this sort of atmosphere at Odori 1-chome. It feels as if I am right there in Munich. It is actually a beer festival and located at the foot of Sapporo TV Tower. You can taste the traditional German cuisine and drink beer while listening to German music performed by Japanese artists.
At Odori 4-chome and 5-chome, you fine the unique local garment made of various ingredients coming from different parts of Hokkaido. It is served the both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes such as ramen noodles, udon, soba, soft-served ice cream, cocktail, and etc. including the dishes which usually are not eaten by locals in Sapporo. Don’t miss visiting these sites. At Odori 6-chome, popular local restaurants in Sapporo open their temporary stalls and serve their specialties and gourmet dishes. It is a very popular venue as you are offered to taste their unique dishes that they are particularly famed for.
If you love wine then head to Odori 7-chome where the wines of 27 wineries in Hokkaido with a wide range of popular dishes that go perfectly with liquor are served. Here, varieties of wine, whiskey and beer, and shochu dominate the whole area. Order glass after glass of liquor if you can bear it and feel the tastes of different brands. Make some notes if you’re curious enough!
If eating various kinds of seafood is your main goal then I suggest you to go to Odori 8-chome. Indeed, it is a popular venue with ranges of local delicacies of different areas across Hokkaido. Their menus include sushi, sashimi, king crabs, sea urchins, scallops, salmon roe, oysters, Yakisoba, Yakitori, including Japanese sake. This venue is considered as the most crowded of all. At Odori 10-chome you encounter some small booths around 15-20 that serve local foods such as Butadon, Donburi, fresh vegetables, freshly-baked pizza and many more. The venue also offers visitors enjoying some stage performances.
Lastly, Odori 11-chome made me think of being a chef! Why?! I was stunned seeing the chefs preparing the foods very quickly. How brilliant! Actually at this venue they show their cooking skills of certain dishes they are skilled in. Please head to the booth “Sapporo Chef’s Kitchen” and see how everything is done quite nicely. You can also eat French and Italian foods, including drink beers from the bars and taste local vegetables and fresh fruits.
The Foods you must try
All the above described venues get crowded during the mealtime, though many people prefer coming there in the evening to have their dinner with someone such friends, family members, relatives, and co-workers. Do you dare to try all the dishes you are offered to try at the various venues? If you ask me this question then I say “No” because I don’t eat meat. Money could be a matter but the foods can be purchased at reasonable prices. You are suggested to come here with a full wallet and you have to have an empty stomach to enjoy the meals!
Here I make a list of popular dishes you must try; these are only few items though. Try eating fresh Otaru sushi, Sapporo ramen, Asahikawa ramen, Wakkanai sea urchins, Jingisukan (Genghis Khan), boiled king crab, queen crab, squid, scallops, shrimp, salmon roe, Ishikarinabe, curry soup, soba noodles, furano melon, Sapporo beer, soft-served ice cream, butter corn ramen, butadon, iasagna, boiled & barbequed fresh Hokkaido corn, okonomiyaki, yakitori, and sweets.
Odori Park Access and Hotels in Sapporo
Getting to Odori Park is not a daunting task; anyone can reach there without having any trouble either from JR Sapporo Station (require a 10-minitue walk) or Odori Subway Station (beside it). The fact is that you would love Sapporo’s transportation network as the roads are very wide and straight. I think transport facility here is far well developed that in Tokyo. Therefore roaming around downtown Sapporo by bus is quite excellent.
If you are willing to stay overnight at the hotels located in nearby Odori park area then below are the most recommended hotels I could share with you.
Welcome to Sapporo Autumn Fest 2016
Place: Odori Park, Sapporo
Date: 9th Sep, 2016 – 1st Oct, 2016
Tel: 011-281-6400 (Sapporo Autumn Fest Executive Committee Organizing Office)
Open: 10:00 – 20:30
Official Website: http://www.sapporo-autumnfest.jp/
“Together we make the Sapporo city enchanting” – says my friend Hiro with whom I had my dinner with at the festival venue. What did he mean by “Together?” Was he addressing me? Yes he was including the locals who were there visiting the food stalls, looking at the menus and ordering the delicious dishes they want to try. If we all contribute to this Sapporo Autumn Fest food festival doing the right thing then it would be much more attractive in the upcoming years than the past time. I hope this article would draw your attention and someday you plan on visiting this festival in autumn to taste the fantastic dishes of Hokkaido’s greatest cuisine.
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis