Thursday 28 June Day 20
Sapporo City (no cycling)
Today I caught the train into Sapporo city. The trains were easy to negotiate, relatively cheap, and it was a quick trip.
Sapporo City is a compact city that is easy to walk around and simple to find your way to all the sights in the CBD. I went first to Sapporo University, and the adjacent University botanic gardens, which were both very nice in Spring. The University has some nice old buildings and scenic surrounds.
I then walked to the old Sapporo Court of Appeals – I thought that it would have some interesting information about the Japanese Court system, but was just an attractive old building… then walked along the length of the Odori, which is a long, thin stretch of parkland that extends over five city blocks in the CBD. There was a spring flower show on, so there were some interesting displays including some workshops where women were doing Ikibana (Japanese art of flower arrangement). There were lots of little stalls selling crafts and homewares and food and drink, so I had one final Hokkaido ice cream for morning tea (caramel flavour!).
Then I went underground! Sapporo has a vast network of underground shopping arcades, which include clothes, homewares, gifts, and enormous food halls and restaurant precincts. It was interesting for me to visit in summer, but I can see that the real benefit of this subterranean world would be in winter, so that one could escape the slushy snow and cold wind. You could really spend all day down there! I managed to spend around three hours walking about in the underground, and had lunch at a food-hall, where I was able to try a few small serves of food from a number of stalls, including yakitori chicken, soba noodles with vegetables, a seaweed salad and slice of cherry-custard pie. Delicious!
After my late lunch, I walked to the Sapporo Beer museum, which is housed in the old Sapporo beer factory (they still produce small quantities of beer for tasting at the factory). It was interesting to take a look around the museum, and I ordered a small beer tasting set, which was quite good but perhaps wasted on me, as I am not much of a beer drinker… The Beer museum would have been a good place for lunch too, because they have a Ghengis Khan-style lamb BBQ lunch.
I tried to keep a look out for gifts for people at home, but there was not much on offer – almost all Japanese tourism is aimed at domestic travellers, with very little specifically on offer for western tourists, so I think that some gift-shopping will have to wait until I am at Sapporo or Narita airports…