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PAL Will Start Flying To Sapporo This September And This Just Inspired Us To List Our Must-Sees

Twinkling lights, neon signs and the constant rush of people along streets, alleys and train stations define the usual, city-slicker adventures of the typical tourist in Japan. You think of bustling bodies and bullet trains and an incessant busy-ness that keeps this most happening of countries on its feet, day and night and over and over again. This urbanity is the Japan that most tourists know. Waiting up in the cold North, however, is a place that is a little bit different: Sapporo.



Recently featured in Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s hit movie Kita Kita (where a temporarily blind Alessandra de Rossi falls in love with funny and earnest Empoy), the city of Sapporo is the largest on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, as well as the fifth largest city in Japan. Sapporo is also the capital of Hokkaido prefecture and has a population of almost two million. Temperatures in Sapporo can be wilder than the rest of Japan, with the city seeing warm summers and snowy winters, with an average snowfall of about 6 meters, making it one of the only cities in the world to see that much powder.

But when Philippine Airlines (PAL) begins its Manila-Sapporo service this September, visitors might be able to marvel at the early signs of fall. Beginning September 10, PAL adds Sapporo to its Japan destinations. The six-hour non-stop PAL service will operate thrice weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), landing the flag carrier’s brand new Airbus A321neo aircraft at Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport.  

Now, why visit Sapporo? It’s cold and it’s far away from the rest of Japan, not the ideal travel destination you might think at first. While the weather may be biting at times, Sapporo’s urban sprawl can be as fun and happening as any other Japanese city. You come to Sapporo for trendy cafés, fantastic food and a bristling night life, like what you’d find in the cities down South. What you’re really looking for in Sapporo, though, is the beer. Sapporo Beer, Japan’s oldest beer brand, was first brewed in this city. Today, you can enjoy one freely while sitting beneath a tree along Odori Park or in Moerenuma.




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If beer isn’t your thing, there’s the Hokkaido Museum and the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium for a spot of city history, while the Sapporo TV Tower offers guests an unbeatable panaromic view of the city. In February, there’s even the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival held in Odori Park.




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If you’re not keen on staying in the city, Sapporo serves as gateway to the Hokkaido countryside. The great plains of Biei, home to Tomita farm, come to life in spring with infinite colors as the landscape falls beneath a carpet of flowers, while the nearby Blue Pond is an otherworldly sight, crystalline and covered in snow. The Hokkaido countryside shoots high up into the sky in places like Mount Yotei and the town of Niseko, before tumbling back down into the sea at the Shakotan Peninsula. A trip across Hokkaido takes you across hills and plains, from the mountains to the seashore, through sites both calming and dramatic, and wholly unbeatable.






For a beautifully cold trip, make your way to Sapporo. Go shopping, have a beer and go for a calm, relaxing stroll down Odori Park. Head out into the countryside and take a walk among the lavenders, and maybe have an ice cream or a cup of coffee at a café while you watch snow blow off the tops of Hokkaido’s mountains.

Sapporo may not be as big a city sprawl as Tokyo or Osaka, but what it offers instead is laid-back relaxation, beer in hand and eyes trained to the bright blue Northern sky. You don’t think you’re that kind of traveler? Maybe this city will change your mind. If there’s anything Empoy and Alessandra’s love story in Kita Kita taught us, it’s that in Sapporo, anything is possible.



Images from @itonon_photo