Sapporo is a lively city. You can feel this atmosphere right in the center of the city year-round.
It hosts some of the most entertaining and eye-catching annual festivals of Hokkaido, such as the World’s Greatest Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) in winter, the Sapporo Lilac Festival for welcoming the flower season in spring, and the Sapporo Summer Festival for celebrating bon odori dancing in summer.
And finally, when autumn arrives here, it comes with a festival offering you the chance to try the local cuisines of the entire 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 as serious a foodie lover as others who usually travel every corner of the world to discover the regional local cuisine of a country,
To me, it is great meeting strangers and helping them discover Sapporo in a stylish way, including directing them to find out the hidden attractions.
The festival makes me view the autumn foliage in Odori Park as well. In fact, most of the residents of Sapporo enjoy hunting Momiji.
It is kind of a new custom to go out to the festival venue and have some food as the festival continues, from the day it starts until the day it ends.
Read our guide, “The Best Things to Do in Sapporo,” and explore a lot of wonderful places and activities in the city.
When is Sapporo Autumn Fest in 2024?
Sapporo Autumn Fest is usually held at the beginning of the fall season. Every year, it takes place in early September and can be enjoyed till the end of the month. It sounds great, right?!
Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Sapporo Autumn Fest 2021 was held online.
Sapporo Autumn Fest 2021″ from September 30th (Thursday) to October 19th (Tuesday).
The festival will be held from September 8–30, 2023, in Odori Park, Sapporo City.
This is an impressive food festival that brings all of Hokkaido’s gourmets together in one place, making it one of the best things one could do in September and October in Sapporo city.
Be 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 a 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 early autumn?
Of course, the answer is for the autumn festival. Hokkaido boasts one of Japan’s greatest cuisines.
It is the second-largest island in Japan, and its cuisine can be divided into several locations with distinct styles of cooking.
It is because the ingredients used are based on the natural and agricultural products of each area.
Have you ever heard of Japan’s northernmost city, Wakkanai? The city is very famous for catching the highest quality of sea urchins and salmon roe.
Though they are not only caught in this area, for example, Nemuro, the easternmost city in Japan, is said to be another contender for producing an abundance of sea urchins.
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 with whom you work as a photographer or a professional independent tourist.
Visiting Hokkaido for a month would be very expensive; I think you know that. Most Hokkaido visitors stay a week or less and only explore certain areas on this huge island.
Some visitors discover only the central part, while others go to the eastern side of the island. It actually depends on their itinerary and 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, it is suggested that you 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 and bars, historical attractions, seasonal beauty, and park make the city quite an impressive place to travel all year round.
Those who think that Sapporo is not a perfect holiday destination in autumn should change their minds immediately. Yeah, right now!
About the Festival and Different Venues
Autumn is the harvest season. Everyone prays to have a good harvesting year, especially the farmers, who feed the nation and make an important contribution to the economy.
Hokkaido’s vast land is quite suitable to cultivate a variety of crops. As Hokkaido is surrounded by the sea, an abundance of seafood is found.
So we can expect to experience a wide range of dishes, including drinks, vegetables, and fruits.
However, the Sapporo Autumn Fest is one of the top food festivals in Japan and gives us the opportunity to enjoy 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 the rest of the seasons, autumn was not as amusing as it should have been.
Thinking of this much-needed stamina to make the city entertaining, the Sapporo Autumn Fest was introduced in 2008 for the first time.
Since then, the festival has become a very popular autumn event, and the number of visitors has increased over time. During the festival, the best thing you could do is satisfy your stomach and buy some as a souvenir to take home.
I noticed that many visitors were really surprised to see the variety of food offered by the food vendors.
You head towards Odori Park, which is a narrow strip of green space that stretches about a kilometer. The Sapporo TV Tower is located on the east side of the park.
If you have not been to any of the biggest food festivals before, then the atmosphere you experience there is beyond 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 food, 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 is located at the foot of Sapporo TV Tower.
You can taste traditional German cuisine and drink beer while listening to German music performed by Japanese artists.
At Odori 4-chome and 5-chome, you can find unique local garments made of various ingredients coming from different parts of Hokkaido.
This part of the festival venue includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes such as ramen noodles, udon, soba, soft-served ice cream, cocktails, etc., including the dishes that are not usually 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 renowned for.
If you love wine, then head to Odori 7-Chome, where the wines of 27 wineries in Hokkaido and a wide range of popular dishes that go perfectly with liquor are served.
Here, varieties of wine, whiskey, 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 go to Odori 8-chome. Indeed, it is a popular venue with a range of local delicacies from 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 to be 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 the opportunity to enjoy some stage performances.
The Odori 11-chome made me think of being a chef! Why?! I was stunned to see the chefs prepare the foods very quickly. How brilliant!
At this venue, they show their cooking skills for 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 beers from the bars, and taste local vegetables and fresh fruits.
The Food you must try
All the above-described venues get crowded during mealtime, though many people prefer coming there in the evening to have their dinner with someone, such as 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 that question, then I would say “no” because I don’t eat meat. Money could be a matter, but the foods can be purchased at reasonable prices.
You are advised to come here with a full wallet, and you have to have an empty stomach to enjoy the meals!
Here is a list of popular dishes that you must try. These are only a few items; you will find tons of food and drinks during the autumn festival:
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, lasagna, boiled and barbecued 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 (a 15-minute walk) or Odori Subway Station (beside it).
You can either take the Namboku Line or Toho Line from JR Sapporo Station to reach Odori Station. One way ride takes about 5 minutes.
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 2024
Place: Odori Park, Sapporo
Date: September 8-30, 2023
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 Sapporo city enchanting, says one of my local friends, with whom I had my dinner at the festival venue. What did he mean by together? Was he addressing me?
Yes, he was, including locals who were there visiting the food stalls, looking at the menus, and ordering the delicious food.
If we all contribute to this autumn food festival doing the right thing, then it would be much more attractive in the upcoming years.
I hope this article will draw your attention, and someday you plan on visiting this festival in autumn to taste the fantastic dishes of Hokkaido’s greatest cuisine.