The largest city in Hokkaido has a western flavor with streets running in square blocks that were initially designed by American Horace Capron back in the early 1870’s. A short walk from Sapporo Station is Odori Park where there is always something happening.
During our summer visit we experienced the Yosakoi Soran Festival with 300 teams comprising 30,000 dancers, competing a minimum of 13 times for a chance to win the title. I interviewed a team from Saitama (Rizon Narukokai Aska). The team consisted of dancers from young children through mature adults. They start practice in early February twice a day until their June performance. The routine is only for five minutes per performance. Although they did not make the finals their performance was filled with passion and energy. The festival takes place during the day and evening over two days. It is difficult not to jump up and start dancing after you have watched a few hours of competition. There are a lot of activities taking place in the park as well as beautiful flower displays everywhere. Not far from the park is the historic former Hokkaido government building. There are exhibits, a museum shop, libraries and it is free to enter. Another location for the Yosakoi Soran Festival is the Sapporo Beer Garden. You can tour the beer museum, join the beer tasting, (there is a fee) and eat mutton (Genghis Khan) at the restaurant. Then you can walk to the stage and watch the dancing competition.
If you are traveling to Japan make sure you check for special airfares from Tokyo to Sapporo. One visit to this city will not be enough and you will want to come back to experience each season.