Hokkaido Summer Travel Guide

8 Best Things to Do in Sapporo in Summer

It is summer in Sapporo now! Snow is no longer visible on the top of the surrounding mountains. Trees of different kinds seem shiny as their branches are now covered with green leaves. Early blooming summer flowers can be spotted down the streets and in parks, while there are many other kinds that are about to bloom.

There are a lot of passions to pursue in Sapporo in the summer. The city offers a comfortable summertime weather, which is dry and often can be windy. It’s different than what you experience on the main island of Honshu with no rainy season. While you are here in the city, I invite you to step outside and explore exciting activities that include fascinating walking and bus tours, festivals, foods, and cultural escapes.

Events and festivals are held throughout the summer months, such as YOSAKOI Soran Festival, Hokkaido Shrine Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Sapporo Summer Festival, to name but a few.

Every year, a lot of foreign tourists visit Hokkaido in summer to see picturesque flower fields in Furano and Biei. If you are one of them who plan on visiting the island this summer, you should experience these activities and events to make sure this season is the best it can be.

1) Yosakoi Soran Festival

Cheerful dancers during the Yosakoi Soran Festival, Sapporo. Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito at Wikimedia Commons.

With so many beautiful places around, no visit to Hokkaido would be complete without experiencing one of its traditional summer festivals.

Yosakoi Soran is one of the biggest street dance festivals in Japan based on the Yosakoi Festival of Kochi Prefecture, held in Sapporo in early June every year, where dancers from all over Japan participate in and create a lively atmosphere that locals enjoy the most. This early summer event has attracted millions of foreign tourists over the years, though.

Started in 1992, with 10 teams and 1,000 dancers, the festival has evolved into one of the major summer festivals in the region attracting 30,000 dancers from Japan and abroad.

Colorful costumes of the dancers, unique style of dancing (Yosakoi), Naruko clappers, and Hokkaido’s Soran Bushi folk songs are the main feature of this event. You will find many food stalls around to fill your stomach in case you get hungry!

If you are going to visit Sapporo in early June, be sure to head over to Odori Park to see this unique summer dance festival. Seriously, it will be one of the best highlights of your Hokkaido summer trip.

2) Jozankei Onsen

Futami suspension bridge, Jozankei Onsen. Photo Credit: t-konno at Wikimedia Commons.

If you ask a Sapporo resident about “Why Jozankei is considered the best onsen (hot spring) in Sapporo?” then he/she will definitely answer you that it’s located close to Sapporo City and there are a lot of things to do seasonally.

Summer is no exception here! In fact, adventure seekers of all ages come to Jozankei in summer and spend their time on trekking, rafting, canoeing, horseback riding, bird watching, fishing, seasonal fruit picking, eating and other outdoor activities.

A day trip to Jozankei Onsen won’t be complete until you experience some outdoor activities in the summertime including cherry and strawberry picking at Jozankei Farm, a quite famous fruit picking farm in Sapporo. For more info visit here.

You can walk across the Futami Suspension Bridge and witness the surrounding natural beauty of Jozankei Onsen. The view of the river valley in the summer is picturesque and it can’t be compared with the view it possesses in the autumn. At that time it even looks ravishing with gorgeous fall foliage all over!

At Jozankei, you’re going to do something fun and exciting. So be prepared to plan a trip to Jozankei next time you visit Sapporo.

3) Maruyama Zoo and Maruyama Park

Wolf at Maruyama Zoo. Photo Credit: pelican at Wikimedia Commons.

In Sapporo, the best day trip for families with kids is probably Maruyama Zoo. This nature-oriented zoo in Sapporo is the first zoo in the Hokkaido region that was opened in 1951.

Situated at the foot of Mount Maruyama, there are about 1000 animals of hundreds of different species. This zoo also houses some endangered animals and birds such as polar bear, snow leopard and red-crowned cranes.

If you are traveling with kids in Sapporo and thinking of a place that is full of amazing adventure, then Maruyama zoo is where you will have to go.

Once you are done exploring the zoo, the next thing you can do is to roam around Maruyama Park, one of the best places to see cherry blossom in May.

It’s a perfect place to relax, which is blessed with beautiful nature. Adjacent to it is the Hokkaido Shrine. If you are looking for the best Shinto Shrine to visit in the city, Hokkaido Shrine is a great option.

4) Hokkaido Shrine Festival

At Hokkaido Shrine. Photo Credit: t-konno Wikimedia Commons.

This historic and traditional Shinto festival is a sight to behold. The Hokkaido Shrine festival is held annually in mid June for 3 days featuring a dazzling parade and food stalls.

The parade begins from the complex of the Hokkaido Shrine and pass through city’s major avenues lined with spectators both locals and tourists alike.

Before the parade begins, traditional dedication ceremonies are held at Hokkaido Shrine. The parade is scheduled to happen on the final day of the festival.

The main features of the festival are the costume parades around the city, alongside four colorful mikoshi portable shrines and eight floats. It’s particularly amazing to see the persons who wear colorful Heian period costumes and carry those portable shrines and floats.

This festival can give you a lively atmosphere that can make your Hokkaido trip a unique adventure and memorable.

5) Sapporo Summer Festival

Bon odori during the Sapporo Summer Festival at Odori Park. Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito at Wikimedia Commons.

The Sapporo Summer Festival reminds me of the Sapporo Autumn Fest, held in September every year. Both these food festival take place in Odori Park and people mostly go there to taste delicious local foods and drinks.

Held in mid July, this month long festival is one of Hokkaido’s popular summer matsuri, which features a number of traditional events such as bon odori dance and temporary open air beer garden stretching from 5-chome to 11-chome in Odori Park.

This is considered the largest beer garden in Japan. Different Japanese beer companies set up their own beer gardens and food stalls with a total of 13,000 seats.

With different types of seating arrangement in each site, make sure you choose the right type before you order your drink and food. I think seat at a table covered with a roof is the best seating option for visitors.

After eating and drinking some beer, you may think of taking a stroll around the streets of Susukino. You will see something pleasant there, which I am not going to reveal here. If you are a travel writer/blogger and love to share your amazing travel adventure through food, then is the event you have to attend to in Sapporo in summer.

In addition, if you are a craft beer lover and your travel time in Sapporo is in early July, visit Sapporo Craft Beer Forest, another summer event to enjoy craft beer held at Sapporo Bankei Ski Area.

6) Hiking Mount Moiwa

Mt. Moiwa Ropeway. Photo Credit: Route275 at Wikimedia Commons.

Anyone ever thought of climbing up Mt. Moiwa? Summer is the best time for climbing Mount Moiwa. The mountain is easy to hike, which would take an hour to complete the trail.

This forested mountain is famous for being one of the most night-view spots in Japan. There is an observation deck at its summit, from where visitors can enjoy 360 degree views over Sapporo City and the surrounding areas. That’s simply breathtaking.

Reaching the summit does not require a hike; instead visitors can reach its summit by the ropeway and mini cablecar. If you want to experience something unique which other travelers may not be interested in then take a challenge by taking a walk across Mt. Moiwa hiking trail.

The trailhead is located next to Sapporo Jikei Hospital. There is also a Japanese Buddhist temple. With a parking lot at the trailhead, you will find a map of the trail. Take a good look at it; better if you take a picture of it.

Once you are the top of the summit, where the observation is located, enjoy the surroundings and you can absolutely love the view of the sunset and night views from there.

So, if you start your hike in the late afternoon, you will there on time, in fact it’s just an hour of hike. When it comes to descending, you should take the ropeway cable car.

7) Day trip to Furano and Biei

Lavender field in Furano in July. Photo Credit: Hokkaido Optional Tours Co.,Ltd.

Once you have seen the big city sights you may want to head out on a day trip out from Sapporo to see some of Hokkaido’s finest.

Summer is undeniably the best time to enjoy the great outdoors that Hokkaido has to offer. The season is known for featuring different kinds of flowers including lavender, sunflowers, and marigolds that bloom in abundance in Central Hokkaido such as in Furano and Biei. If you wish to see some amazing rainbow color flower fields, Furano and Biei should be on your bucket list.

From your hotel in Sapporo, it’s possible to take a day trip to Furano and Biei by bus offered by local bus companies. Is not it surprising?

For those who only have a few days to spend in the city should take this opportunity. Their bus tours take you on a journey to an adventure of a lifetime highlighting the best of Hokkaido’s most beautiful flower fields in the summer.

By a guided tour bus, visiting places like Farm Tomita, Flowerland Kamifurano, Shikisai no Oka and Blue Pond in a day is possible. On the other hand, a few more other attractions can be explored if you rent a car right from Sapporo and drive it to Furano and Biei.

You may find this 1-day bus tour pretty useful. So check it out guys and make sure you make an online reservation beforehand!

8) Aso Beach, Ishikari

Aso beach. Photo Credit: Sapporo Tourist Association.

Although Hokkaido is surrounded by the seas, it is not a perfect beach destination like Okinawa. Don’t you agree? Summer here is short and locals of Sapporo prefer heading towards a beach which offers them plenty of space to sunbathe and swim in the ocean.

I always prefer to visit one that is located close to Sapporo city and Aso beach fulfills my requirement. Parents are keen to take their children to the beach during the summertime and let them play with the sand. That’s an interesting summer activity that all know about, right?

If you are in Sapporo city and looking for an ideal place to swim in the ocean then head to Aso Beach located at Ishikari Bay. The beach is only a 40 minute drive from downtown Sapporo, which makes it a perfect place to enjoy a day on the beach. It may take about an hour to reach there by bus.

Beautiful sandy beach, sea waves, and the mountains in the distance together form incredible scenery that your eyes would love to marvel at. Whether you swim in the ocean or not, don’t forget to walk along the beach to enjoy nature.

From the beach, watching the sunset is also mesmerizing and beautiful. This is recommended for those who will visit the beach in the late afternoon. Just outside the beach area, there is an onsen. You can go there and relax your mind and body after swimming.

In Conclusion

Sapporo is one of Hokkaido’s top summer destinations. The above places and activities are just a few examples of Sapporo’s best summer highlights, in fact, there are other things to do and see.

Summer here lasts from June to August and within this period of time you have a plenty of options for outdoor activities including participating one of its summer music festivals and watching fireworks display at night.