Sapporo is the 5th largest city of Japan and the business and commercial centre of Hokkaido. It acts as a hub for tourists travelling to the far wilderness of the northernmost island in Japan. It also has a perfect balance of an urban city environment with plenty of nature around. Before you go to explore the outdoors of Hokkaido, make a stopover here and discover what the Japan’s newest city has to offer. In this series of Sapporo special blogs, I will share information on some of the best places to go for sightseeing, shopping and food in Sapporo.
“Happiness is not in money but in Shopping” –Marilyn Monroe
Sapporo has many places to help you buy the happiness in shopping. A good number of stores also offer tax free shopping for international tourists (carry your passport). To boost your shopping karma in overdrive, head to the following spots:
Sapporo JR Station:
A gigantic web of underground stores offering souvenirs, apparels, footwear, jewellery, cosmetics and electronics makes Sapporo JR Station as one of the largest shopping sites in Sapporo. Daimaru on the western wing (International branded stores where I only go for window shopping ) and Esta on the eastern wing are multi storey department stores. Daimaru`s food court is a good place to buy Omiyage`s such as Kit Kat in a number of weird flavours that I could never even imagine. Apia, Paseo East & West and Stellar Place are smaller shopping areas connected to the former two department stores (I love strolling here to get my monthly retail fix).All of these 5 shopping zones also have good dining options to take a refuelling break.
If you are struggling with size while buying clothes, then UNIQLO on 5th floor of ESTA is a good place to buy basic clothing items. Yodobashi (West exit of Sapporo Station) and Big Camera (ESTA building) are brilliant places to buy tax free electronics and other goods. They also have kids gaming sections to keep your little ones happy. After shopping, I sometime go to Cinema Frontier Sapporo on the 7th floor of Stellar Place to watch a movie. Beware of the middle seat trap in Japanese theatres though.
Tip: At the information desk in APIA centre, international tourists can get 1000 yen welcome coupons and also limited free Wi-Fi connection on presenting their passport or the Hokkaido Rail Pass. Keeping cash is always recommended as the shopping system in Sapporo is mostly cash based.
Business hours – 10:00 am to 8:00 pm for most of the shops, Restaurants close between 10:00 pm -11:00 pm.
Directions: Click here .
100 Yen Stores ( Hyaku Yen Stores) :
I love the 100 yen stores in Japan. They sell an amazing array of house wares, gifts, stationary, souvenirs etc. for just 100 yen (+ consumption tax). Large department sized and small stores can be easily found all over Sapporo. Daiso and Cando are two my favourites. Two 100 yen stores are also in Sapporo Station (At B1 floor of Esta and in Bridge Building next to Yodobashi Camera).
Business hours – 10:00 am to 8:00 pm ( some stores are open 24 hrs)
Directions：Daiso near Sapporo Station.
The Odori Area is famous for old domestic stores as well as new International fashion outlets. Pole town and Aurora town are two of the main shopping areas here. Both these shopping arcades are underground hence easy to access in winter as well. They begin at the Odori station and end at Susukino subway station. I love the perky underground shopping ambience here with a variety of stores and cafes .
Parco shopping complex in Odori hosts a number of western brands along with local Japanese outlets. Mitsukoshi is another shopping complex just opposite to Parco. Both of these places have cafes and restaurants to recharge the shoppers.
Tip: From the south exit of Sapporo station walk through the underground Sapporo Ekimae dori ( Sapporo to Susukino) while exploring shops, cafes, local art exhibitions etc. Parco can also be reached straight from Pole town
Business Hours – Pole town and Aurora town Stores – 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Directions：For directions to Parco click here.
Developed in the 18th century, Tanukikoji (a place where badgers hang out) was the first organised shopping site ever created in Sapporo. A whopping number of shops, restaurants, cafes, Karaoke bars, and night clubs give it a bazaar like feel. You can buy pretty much everything from souvenirs, local food products and cheap cosmetics to kimonos, tea and incense sticks. I usually go to Donki Quijote when I am in Tanukikoji. Donki has a huge range of merchandise where you can shop till you drop. Tanukikoji area is a great place for street shopping but ladies please keep your men away .
Tip: Nijo Fish market is few minutes walk from Tanukikoji.
Business Hours: Around 10 in the morning and runs late in the night. Donki is open 24 hours.
Directions– For directions to Donki Quijote, Click here. It can be directly accessed from Susukino station.
Sapporo Factory Outelt Mall:
Don’t go by the name, Sapporo factory is actually a shopping mall. It was a former manufacturing site for Sapporo breweries. The shopping mall is separated into three main zones. Nijo and Sanjo areas in the mall sell clothes, footwear, home items etc. The Renga area is an attractive place to look at and and buy local handicrafts and souvenirs. It also has a big pet store Pet land, if you want to shop for your pets. On the ground floor dining options are available and in the atrium they usually have events going, with the biggest being a giant Christmas tree lighting. Beer garden with Jingisukan at the corner of the factory is a good place for a cold beer in Summer.
Business hours: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm (shops) 10:00 pm ( restaurants)
Mitsui Outlet Park Kitahiroshima:
Mitsui is a chain of large shopping malls. The park in Kitahiroshima has hundreds of International and Japanese brand stores catering to all the shopping needs. As it takes about 40 minutes from the down town Sapporo to reach, I rarely go there.
Business hours: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Directions : Click here for directions.
Rera Chitose Outlet Mall:
Rera mall is the largest outlet mall in Hokkaido and great for some last minute shopping before you fly out of Sapporo. It has more than 400 brands under one roof. It reminds me of the large shopping outlets in Australia where I used to go for my annual shopping. They offer massive discounts on fashion and other accessories.
Business hours: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Directions: Click here
Ario is my new favourite shopping place in Sapporo. Located next to Sapporo Beer Garden, Ario is very spacious, in comparison to some of the other malls here. This place is a paradise for young ones. It has a number of stores for kids of all ages ranging from newborns to teenagers such as Akachanhonpo, Toys”R”Us, and Babies”R”Us. Plenty of stores for grown ups are also around. Unlike Daimaru and Odori shopping areas, what you you will not at Ario are, big international brands. A good number of dining options are also available and it is tax free for international tourists.
Business hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Directions: The best way to reach Ario is by Chuo bus #188 and #63 from Sapporo Station North Exit Bus stop. Go here for train directions.
Do share with me what are your favourite shopping spots in Japan by commenting below. For some of the interesting site seeing places in Sapporo, go here.
As always, thank you for reading