Sapporo is known for having hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, the first ever held in Asia, and for the city's annual Sapporo Snow Festival, which draws more than 2 million tourists from abroad.
Before its establishment, the area occupied by Sapporo (known as the Ishikari Plain) was home to a number of indigenous Ainu settlements. In 1866, at the end of the Edo period, construction began on a canal through the area, encouraging a number of early settlers to establish Sapporo village. The settlement's name was taken from the Ainu language sat poro pet (サッ・ポロ・ペッ), and can be translated as "dry, great river".
In 1868, the officially recognized year celebrated as the "birth" of Sapporo, the new Meiji government concluded that the existing administrative center of Hokkaido, which at the time was the port of Hakodate, was in an unsuitable location for defense and further development of the island. As a result, it was determined that a new capital on the Ishikari Plain should be established. The plain itself provided an unusually large expanse of flat, well drained land which is relatively uncommon in the otherwise mountainous geography of Hokkaido.
During 1870–1871, Kuroda Kiyotaka, vice-chairman of the Hokkaido Development Commission (Kaitaku-shi), approached the American government for assistance in developing the land. As a result, Horace Capron, Secretary of Agriculture under President Ulysses S. Grant, became an oyatoi gaikokujin and was appointed as a special advisor to the commission. Construction began around Odori Park, which still remains as a green ribbon of recreational land bisecting the central area of the city. The city closely followed a grid plan with streets at right-angles to form city blocks.
The continuing expansion of the Japanese into Hokkaido continued, mainly due to migration from the main island of Honshu immediately to the south, and the prosperity of Hokkaido and particularly its capital grew to the point that the Development Commission was deemed unnecessary and was abolished in 1882.
Edwin Dun (oyatoi gaikokujin) came to Sapporo to establish sheep and cattle ranches in 1876. He also demonstrated pig raising and the making of butter, cheese, ham and sausage. He was married twice, to Japanese women. He once went back to the US in 1883 but returned to Japan as a secretary of government.
William S. Clark (oyatoi gaikokujin), who was the president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts Amherst), came to be the founding vice-president of the Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University) for only eight months from 1876 to 1877. He taught academic subjects in science and lectured on the Bible as an "ethics" course, introducing Christian principles to the first entering class of the College.
In 1880, the entire area of Sapporo was renamed as "Sapporo-ku" (Sapporo Ward), and a railroad between Sapporo and Temiya, Otaru was laid. That year the Hōheikan, a hotel and reception facility for visiting officials and dignitaries, was erected adjacent to the Odori Park. It was later moved to Nakajima Park where it remains today. Two years later, with the abolition of the Kaitaku-shi, Hokkaidō was divided into three prefectures: Hakodate, Sapporo, and Nemuro. The name of the urban district in Sapporo remained Sapporo-ku, while the rest of the area in Sapporo-ku was changed to Sapporo-gun. The office building of Sapporo-ku was also located in the urban district.
Sapporo, Hakodate, and Nemuro Prefectures were abolished in 1886, and Hokkaidō government office building, an American-neo-baroque-style structure with red bricks, constructed in 1888. The last squad of the Tondenhei, the soldiers pioneering Hokkaido, settled in the place where the area of Tonden in Kita-ku, Sapporo is currently located. Sapporo-ku administered surrounding Sapporo-gun until 1899, when the new district system was announced. After that year, Sapporo-ku was away from the control of Sapporo-gun. The "ku" (district) enforced from 1899 was an autonomy which was a little bigger than towns, and smaller than cities. In Hokkaido at that time, Hakodate-ku and Otaru-ku also existed.
In 1907, the Tohoku Imperial University was established in Sendai Miyagi Prefecture, and Sapporo Agricultural College was controlled by the University. Parts of neighbouring villages including Sapporo Village, Naebo Village, Kami Shiroishi Village, and districts where the Tonden-hei had settled, were integrated into Sapporo-ku in 1910.
The Sapporo Streetcar was opened in 1918, and Hokkaido Imperial University was established in Sapporo-ku, as the fifth Imperial University in Japan. Another railroad operated in Sapporo, the Jōzankei Railroad, which was ultimately abolished in 1969.
In 1922, the new city system was announced by the Tokyo government, and Sapporo-ku was officially changed to Sapporo City. The Sapporo Municipal Bus System was started in 1930. In 1937, Sapporo was chosen as the site of the 1940 Winter Olympics, but due to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, this was cancelled the next year. Maruyama Town was integrated as a part of Chūō-ku in 1940, and the Okadama Airport was constructed in 1942.
During the last days of World War II, on July 14 and 15, 1945, 30 B-29 Superfortress bombers dropped 889 tons of E-46 500 lbs incendiary cluster bombs and 500 lbs T4E4 fragmentation cluster bombs into Sapporo at lunchtime in two separate air raids. In the resulting firestorm 190 civilians were killed, 6,788 were injured, 78,000 others remained homeless, and many structures burned for a total of 17.5 percent of the city destroyed as a part of Allied air raids on Hokkaido. The city was reconstructed after the war.
The first Sapporo Snow Festival was held in 1950. In the same year, adjacent Shiroishi Village was integrated into Sapporo City, rendered as a part of Shiroishi-ku, and Atsubetsu-ku. In 1955, Kotoni Town, the entire Sapporo Village, and Shinoro Village were merged into Sapporo, becoming a part of the current Chūō-ku, Kita-ku, Higashi-ku, Nishi-ku, and Teine-ku. The expansion of Sapporo continued, with the merger of Toyohira Town in 1961, and Teine Town in 1967, each becoming a part of Toyohira-ku, Kiyota-ku, and Teine-ku.
The ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Sapporo and Hokkaido was held in 1968. The Sapporo Municipal Subway system was inaugurated in 1971, which made Sapporo the fourth city in Japan to have a subway system. From February 3 to 13, 1972, the 1972 Winter Olympics were held, the first Winter Olympics held in Asia. On April 1 of the same year, Sapporo was designated as one of the cities designated by government ordinance, and seven wards were established. The last ever public performance by the opera singer, Maria Callas, was in Sapporo at the Hokkaido Koseinenkin Kaikan on 11 November 1974. The Sapporo Municipal Subway was expanded when the Tōzai line started operation in 1976, and the Tōhō line was opened in 1988. In 1989, Atsubetsu-ku and Teine-ku were separated from Shiroishi-ku and Nishi-ku. Annual events in Sapporo were started, such as the Pacific Music Festival in 1990, and Yosakoi Sōran Festival in 1992. A professional football club, Consadole Sapporo, was established in 1996. In 1997, Kiyota-ku was separated from Toyohira-ku. In the same year, Hokkaidō Takushoku Bank, a Hokkaido-based bank with headquarters in Odori, went bankrupt.
In 2001 the construction of the Sapporo Dome was completed, and in 2002 the Dome hosted three games during the 2002 FIFA World Cup; Germany vs Saudi Arabia, Argentina vs England and Italy vs Ecuador, all of which were in the first round. Fumio Ueda, was elected as Sapporo mayor for the first time in 2003. Sapporo became the home to a Nippon Professional Baseball team, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, in 2004, which won the 2006 Japan Series, and the victory parade was held on Ekimae-Dōri (a street in front of Sapporo Station) in February 2007.
The 34th G8 summit took place in Tōyako in 2008, and a number of people including anti-globalisation activists marched in the heart of the city to protest. Police officers were gathered in Sapporo from all over Japan, and the news reported that four people were arrested in the demonstrations. The Hokkaidō Shinkansen line, which currently connects Honshu to Hakodate through the Seikan Tunnel, is planned to link to Sapporo by 2030.
Sapporo is a city located in the southwest part of Ishikari Plain and the alluvial fan of the Toyohira River, a tributary stream of the Ishikari River. Roadways in the urban district are laid to make a grid plan. The western and southern parts of Sapporo are occupied by a number of mountains including Mount Teine, Maruyama, and Mount Moiwa, as well as many rivers including the Ishikari River, Toyohira River, and Sōsei River.
Sapporo has many parks, including Odori Park, which is located in the heart of the city and hosts a number of annual events and festivals throughout the year. Moerenuma Park is also one of the largest parks in Sapporo, and was constructed under the plan of Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American artist and landscape architect.
Neighbouring cities are Ishikari, Ebetsu, Kitahiroshima, Eniwa, Chitose, Otaru, Date, and adjoining towns are Tōbetsu, Kimobetsu, Kyōgoku.
Sapporo has a humid continental climate (Koppen Dfa), with a wide range of temperature between the summer and winter. Summers are generally warm but not overly humid, and winters are cold and very snowy, with an average snowfall of 5.96 m (19 ft 7 in). Sapporo is one of the few metropolises in the world with such heavy snowfall, enabling it to hold events and festivals with snow statues. The heavy snowfall is due to the Siberian High developing over the Eurasian land mass and the Aleutian Low developing over the northern Pacific Ocean, resulting in a flow of cold air southeastward across Tsushima Current and to western Hokkaido. The city's annual average precipitation is around 1,100 mm (43.3 in), and the mean annual temperature is 8.5 °C (47.3 °F).
Sapporo has ten wards (区, ku):
Color shows the location of each ku in the map above.
The tertiary sector dominates Sapporo's industry. Major industries include information technology, retail, and tourism, as Sapporo is a destination for winter sports and events and summer activities due to its comparatively cool climate.
The city is also the manufacturing centre of Hokkaido, manufacturing various goods such as food and related products, fabricated metal products, steel, machinery, beverages, and pulp and paper.
Hokkaido International Airlines (Air Do) is headquartered in Chūō-ku. In April 2004, Air Nippon Network was headquartered in Higashi-ku.
Greater Sapporo, Sapporo Metropolitan Employment Area (2.3 million people), had a total GDP of US $84.7 billion in 2010.
Sapporo JR Tower adjacent to Sapporo Station.
Sapporo Ramen Yokocho and Norubesa (a building with a Ferris wheel) are in Susukino district. The district also has the Tanuki Kōji Shopping Arcade, the oldest shopping mall in the city.
The district of Jōzankei in Minami-ku is a site that has many hotels with steam baths and hot springs.
Peace Pagoda, one of many such monuments across the world built by the Buddhist order Nipponzan Myohoji to promote and inspire world peace. Stupa was built in 1959, halfway up Mount Moiwa, to commemorate peace after World War II. It contains some of the ashes of the Buddha that were presented to the Emperor of Japan by Prime Minister Nehru in 1954. Another part were presented to Mikhail Gorbachev by the Nipponzan-Myohoji monk, Junsei Terasawa.
February: the Sapporo Snow Festival The main site is at Odori Park, and other sites include Susukino (known as the Susukino Ice Festival) and Sapporo Satoland. Many of the snow and ice statues are built by members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
May: the Sapporo Lilac Festival. Lilac was brought to Sapporo in 1889 by an American educator, Sarah Clara Smith. At the festival, people enjoy the flowers, wine and live music.
June: the Yosakoi Soran Festival. The sites of the festival are centered on Odori Park and the street leading to Susukino, and there are other festival sites. In the festival, many dance teams dance to music composed based on a Japanese traditional song, "Sōran Bushi." Members of the dancing teams wear special costumes and compete on the roads or stages constructed on the festival sites. In 2006, 350 teams were featured with around 45,000 dancers, and over 1,860,000 people visited the festival.
the Sapporo Summer Festival. People enjoy drinking at the beer garden in Odori Park and on the streets of Susukino. This festival consists of a number of fairs such as Tanuki Festival and Susukino Festival.
September: the Sapporo Autumn Festival
December: Christmas market in Odori Park, similar to German Christmas markets.
From November through January, many citizens enjoy the Sapporo White Illumination.
The city is known home to Sapporo Brewery, and the white chocolate biscuits 'shiroi koibito' (白い恋人), also as the birthplace of miso ramen, a ramen noodle dish using miso, and Sapporo ramen is also widely known. The Kouraku Ramen Meitengai, an alley lined with many ramen restaurants, was established in 1951 in Susukino district. After its demolition due to plans for the Sapporo Olympics, the Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho was established in the same place. It attracts many tourists throughout the year. From the year 1966, a food company named Sanyo Foods began to sell instant ramen under the brand name "Sapporo Ichiban."
Haskap, a local variety of edible honeysuckle, similar to blueberries, is a specialty in Sapporo. Other specialty dishes of Sapporo are soup curry, a soupy curry made with vegetables and chicken or other meats, and jingisukan, a barbecued lamb dish, named for Genghis Khan. Sapporo Sweets is a confectionery using many ingredients from Hokkaido and the Sapporo Sweets Competition is held annually. Sapporo is also well-known for fresh seafood including salmon, sea urchin and crab.
The Sapporo Dome was constructed in 2001 and currently is the host to the local soccer team, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, the baseball team Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and the basketball team Levanga Hokkaido.
Sapporo was selected to be the host of the 5th Winter Olympics scheduled on February 3 to 12, 1940, but Japan had to give the Games back to the IOC, after the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937.
In 1972, Sapporo hosted the 11th Winter Olympics. Some structures built for Olympic events remain in use today, including the ski jumps at Miyanomori and Okurayama. Olympic representatives in Sapporo have said that the city is considering a bid for the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics. The city predicts it may cost as much as 456.5 billion yen ($4.3 billion) to host the games and is planning to have 90 percent of the facilities within half an hour of the Olympic village, according to a report published 12 May 2016. The Alpen course would be in Niseko, the world’s second-snowiest resort, while the village would be next to the Sapporo Dome, the report said. The plans were presented to the Japanese Olympic Committee on 8 November 2016. In 2002, Sapporo hosted three group matches of the FIFA World Cup at the Sapporo Dome. In 2006, Sapporo hosted some games of the 2006 Basketball World Championship and also for the 2006 Women's Volleyball World Championship. In 2007, Sapporo hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships at the Sapporo Dome, Miyanomori ski jump, Okurayama ski jump, and the Shirahatayama cross country course. It has been host city of two Asian Winter Games and hosted the 2017 Asian Winter Games with Obihiro.
Skiing remains a major sport in Sapporo with almost all children skiing as a part of the school curriculum. Okurayama Elementary School is unusual in having its own ski hill and ski jumping hill on the school grounds. Within the city are commercial ski hills including Moiwayama, Bankeiyama, KobaWorld, Sapporo Teine and Fu's.
Many sports stadiums and domes are located in Sapporo, and some of them have been designated as venues of sports competitions. The Sapporo Community Dome, also known by its nickname "Tsu-Dome", has hosted the Golden Market, a huge flea market event which is usually held twice a year, along with some sports events. The Makomanai Ice Arena, in Makomanai Park, was one of the venues of the Sapporo Olympics in 1972. It was renamed the Makomanai Sekisuiheim Ice Arena in 2007, when Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd., acquired naming rights and renamed the arena after their real estate brand. Other large sports venues include the Makomanai Open Stadium, Tsukisamu Dome, Maruyama Baseball Stadium, and the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center.
Toyota Big Air is a major international snowboarding event held annually in Sapporo Dome. As one of the richest events of its kind in the world, it draws many of the world's best snowboarders.
The city has an estimated population of 1,947,097 as of September 30, 2016 and a population density of 1,700 persons per km2 (4,500 persons per mi2). The total area is 1,121.12 km2 (432.87 sq mi).
Sapporo has one streetcar line, three JR Hokkaido lines, three subway lines and JR Bus, Chuo Bus and other bus lines. Sapporo Subway trains have rubber-tyred wheels.
The Sapporo area is served by two airports: Okadama Airport, which offers regional flights within Hokkaido, and New Chitose Airport, a larger international airport located in the city of Chitose 30 miles (48 km) away connected by regular rapid trains taking around 40 minutes.
An airport shuttle bus servicing all hotels in Sapporo operates every day of the year.
See Japanese national university
Sapporo Odori High School provides Japanese-language classes to foreign and Japanese returnee students, and the school has special admissions quotas for these groups.
The city has two private international schools:
Sapporo has twinning relationships with several cities worldwide.