Tour of Sapporo’s sightseeing spots: Discover dynamic seasonal sights

  • : 1 day
  • Route: Hill of the Buddha → Sapporo Beer Garden and Sapporo Beer Museum → Botanic Garden, Hokkaido University → SIAF Lounge → Mt. Moiwa → Tanuki Koji Shopping Street
  • MAP

Hill of the Buddha
( : 40 minutes)

Useful Info
  • The Hill of the Buddha is about 1 hour from Sapporo Station by subway and bus.
  • The bus from Makomanai Station to the Hill of the Buddha runs once an hour from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. The last return bus is around 2:00 pm. Since the bus schedule is limited, it’s best to check it here in advance.
  • To enter the hall that houses the Great Buddha, a 300 yen donation per person is requested for maintaining the lavender fields. The donation can be paid at the automated payment machine in front of the water garden.
  • The Great Buddha is located in a lavender field—peak season is from mid to late July.
  • Be sure to check the opening hours before visiting because they differ between summer (April to October) and winter (November to March).

In recent years, the Hill of the Buddha is a spot that’s garnered a lot of attention in Sapporo. It has earned its place among Japan’s famous Great Buddhas, including those in Kyoto, Nara and Kamakura, as one not to be missed!

Sign inside Makomanai Station pointing to the bus stop
Makomanai Station No. 2 Bus Stop

The Hill of the Buddha is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from central Sapporo City by public transport. First, you’ll take a subway from Sapporo Station to Makomanai Sation. Once you pass the ticket gates at Makomanai Station, make your way to the south end by turning left and board the 真108 bus at the No. 2 Bus Stop. The trip will take around 23 minutes. Get off at the Makomanai Takino Cemetery stop (真駒内滝野霊園) where the Hill of the Buddha is located.

The Hill of the Buddha is located in a corner of a cemetery lined with graves. Designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando, this Great Buddha is truly one of a kind—when you look at it from the outside only part of its head can be seen peeking above a domed hill.

In order to see the Great Buddha, you must walk around a water garden at the entrance of the hall and pass through a tunnel. The water garden has been installed here to act as a kekkai in Buddhism, something that separates the outer world from the inner sanctum. In other words, it can be seen as a boundary between our daily lives and the extraordinary world of the Great Buddha.

Once you have passed through the tunnel, you finally come face to face with the Great Buddha. This dignified statue enshrined inside an impressive stone hall is nothing short of majestic. As you look up to take it all in, you’ll be blown away by the captivating view of the Great Buddha and the sky above.

Next to the Great Buddha, there is a place selling ema, small wooden plaques for writing prayers or wishes, and omikuji, fortunes written on strips of paper. Why not create nice memories of your visit here by trying your luck with an omikuji or drawing a picture of your face or the face of someone you care about on an ema?

The scenery of the Hill of the Buddha changes with each season—cherry blossoms in spring, lavender in summer, autumn leaves in autumn and white snow in winter. No matter which season you visit, the Great Buddha’s head peering out of the domed hill gives a unique presence.

There’s also a row of Moai statues and a replica of Stonehenge located near the Hill of the Buddha, which are definitely worth checking out. They’re placed here because they’re said to be ancient tombs. Seeing these unique sculptures after having visited the inner sanctum of the Great Buddha will have you feeling like you’ve wandered into a different world. Take your time to enjoy this unique experience to the fullest until it’s time to hop onto the return bus.

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Sapporo Beer Garden and Sapporo Beer Museum
( : 2 hours)

Useful Info

  • Sapporo Beer Museum is about 1 hour 30 minutes from the Hill of the Buddha by subway and bus.
  • Return to Makomanai Sation by bus and then take the subway to Sapporo Station. From there, make your way to the bus stop at the entrance of the Tokyu Department Store to the south of the station and take the loop bus, 循環88.
  • Loop buses from Tokyu Department Store to Sapporo Beer Garden run every 30 minutes.
  • The Premium Tour of the Sapporo Beer Museum runs four times a day (duration: 50 minutes). Advance reservations from this website are required.
  • Fee: 1,000 yen (age 13 to 19: 500 yen, age 12 and under: free) (as of December 1, 2023). English and Korean Audio Guide Devices are also available for a fee.
  • The Premium Tour doesn’t include food. Meals can be purchased separately at the Sapporo Beer Garden.

After visiting the Hill of the Buddha, it’s time to enjoy Japanese beer and Genghis Khan, a part of Hokkaido’s food culture.

Head to the Sapporo Beer Garden by returning to Sapporo Station and taking bus 循環88 from the bus stop outside of the Tokyu Department Store to the south of the station.

The Sapporo Beer Museum located next to the Sapporo Beer Garden is the oldest beer museum in Japan. You can get the most out of your visit by taking the guided Premium Tour (fee applies). Japan’s first full-scale beer brewery was built right here in Sapporo, and you can learn about that history and the evolution of the beer industry in Japan.

A highlight is the posters displayed in the exhibition gallery. There are many colorful and beautiful designs to take in. The movie played at the end of the tour clearly demonstrates the changes Sapporo has gone through to today—it’s definitely worth watching until the end.

The Premium Tour also offers an exclusive beer tasting session at the end—another reason to join the tour!

A particularly rare treat that you can only drink here is the Fukkoku Sapporo-sei Beer, a reproduction of the original Sapporo Beer made at the time of the brewery’s founding. If you don’t drink alcohol, you should try Ribbon NAPOLIN, a carbonated beverage available only in Hokkaido.

When the tour is finished, you’re sure to have built up a healthy appetite! It’s time to go to the Sapporo Beer Garden and enjoy a delicious meal of Genghis Khan for lunch.

Genghis Khan—lamb grilled on a special dome-shaped skillet and dipped in a unique sauce—is one of Hokkaido’s classic soul foods. You can pair this with a crisp glass of lager—it’s bound to taste extra special after learning about the history of Japanese beer.

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Botanic Garden, Hokkaido University
( : 1 hour)

Useful Info

  • Take the loop bus from Sapporo Beer Garden back to the Tokyu Department Store and walk south for about 10 minutes to reach the Botanic Garden, Hokkaido University.
  • There’s an admission fee. Summer season: age 16 and above: 420 yen, age 7 to 15: 300 yen, age 6 and under: free. Winter season: age 7 and above: 120 yen (as of December 1, 2023).
  • Keep in mind that in the winter season (November 4 to April 28), you can only visit the greenhouse and the opening hours are shorter.

You’re sure to be stuffed when you leave the Sapporo Beer Garden, so why not take a stroll in nature next? A great place to do that is the Botanic Garden, Hokkaido University, a 10-minute walk from Sapporo Station.

Here, you can see the flowers, fruits and autumn leaves of various plants throughout the park’s opening period from spring to autumn.

The natural forest, which has been left untouched since the garden’s establishment, is one of the most precious natural areas in Hokkaido. The area is lush with large trees, such as painted maples and Japanese maples, and the scenery is unlike anything you’d expect to see in a city.

The park also has a museum where you can learn fascinating things and get a sense of the history of the area, with taxidermied Hokkaido animals and the remains of a pit dwelling. We recommend allowing some time to take it all in.

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SIAF Lounge
( : 30 minutes)

Useful Info

  • The SIAF Lounge is on the first floor of the Sapporo Shiryokan (Sapporo Archives Museum), about a 10-minute walk southwest from the Botanic Garden, Hokkaido University.
  • This is the venue of the Sapporo International Art Festival, a three-yearly art event that has been held since 2014.
  • The Sapporo Shiryokan building was once used as the Sapporo Court of Appeals.
  • This precious building constructed with soft stone produced in Sapporo is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
  • There are panels inside the building with information on the history of the Shiryokan, including some information in English.

After walking around the Botanic Garden, you can stop by the Sapporo Shiryokan about a 10-minute walk away and take a well-deserved break.

On the first floor, there’s a lounge that was one of the venues for the Sapporo International Art Festival and is now a space where you can learn more about it.

The café serves various drinks including coffee and snacks like chocolate bars, so it’s a great spot to recharge a little before you hop on the streetcar to Mt. Moiwa.

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Mt. Moiwa
( : 1 hour)

Useful Info

  • It takes about 1 hour to get to the summit of Mt. Moiwa from the SIAF Lounge.
  • Take the streetcar from the Nishi Jugo Chome Station, roughly a 6-minute walk from the SIAF Lounge, and get off at the Ropeway Iriguchi Station. From there, a 7-minute walk will get you to the Sapporo Mt. Moiwa Ropeway Sanroku Station where you can take a ropeway and a mini cable car to the summit of Mt. Moiwa.
  • Click here to check the operating hours and the scheduled closures of the ropeway and the mini cable car.
  • Tickets are required for both the ropeway and the mini cable car. The best value is a return trip ticket that includes both the ropeway and the mini car for 2,100 yen for adults and 1,050 yen for children (age 12 and under). You can buy your tickets from the ticket counter on the fourth floor of the Sanroku Station.

As dusk begins to approach, start making your way to Mt. Moiwa. Take the streetcar to the Ropeway Iriguchi Station, then head to the Sapporo Mt. Moiwa Ropeway Sanroku Station.

To get to the summit of Mt. Moiwa, take the ropeway from the Sanroku Station, then the mini cable car.

The ropeway has big windows so as the car climbs you can take in the spectacular view of the cityscape gradually spreading out in front of you. Another highlight is the seasonal scenery of Mt. Moiwa, which is colored by deep green foliage in spring and summer, burnt orange autumn leaves in autumn and white snow in winter.

From the summit observation deck, you can take in an enthralling 360-degree panoramic view of Sapporo City. Sapporo is a city of 1.9 million people, and the sight of the twinkling lights blanketing Sapporo’s endless city streets is truly spectacular. If you have time, it’s worth heading to the summit a little earlier to watch the first tinges of dusk give way to night and enjoy what is bound to be an enchanting golden hour.

Sapporo boasts one of the most beautiful night views in Japan and was even chosen as one of Japan’s New Three Most Spectacular Night Views. Make sure you check out this breathtaking night view for yourself!

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Tanuki Koji Shopping Street
( : 1 hour)

Useful Info

  • Tanuki Koji Shopping Street is about 1 hour from Mt. Moiwa.
  • Take the streetcar from the Ropeway Iriguchi Station to Tanuki Koji Station.
  • This shopping arcade is an impressive 900 m in total, spanning seven blocks with roughly 200 shops.

After descending from Mt. Moiwa, wrap up the day by heading out to the Tanuki Koji Shopping Street. After a day filled with shoppers, it’s bustling with people who come here to enjoy the restaurants.

Tanuki Koji has long been known as a popular spot for ramen, and is lined with many famous restaurants, as well as seafood, soup curry, and other delicacies unique to Hokkaido and Sapporo.

In addition to street-facing shops, there are lots of hidden gems to be found in places that branch off the arcade, like the laneway-style food spot TANUKI COMICHI in 2-chome and the local favorite, Tanuki Koji Market, in 6-chome. If you’re not sure what to eat, these two spots are the perfect place to enjoy some restaurant hopping.

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