A Less Crowded Alternative
Recently, I was asked by a Japanese learner from Australia to help him pick a university in Japan where he will study as an exchange student for the entire 2012 year. One of his options is Sapporo University in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.
Not knowing enough about specific universities, I took it upon myself to do some basic research. It’s the least I can do, and besides, maybe other readers would find this interesting?
Sushi, and Beer
Sapporo is considered by some to have the finest Sushi in Japan. It’s also considerably less expensive sushi than you’ll find in Tokyo.
Sapporo is also a famous producer of beer. A large beer factory is another notable tourist stop.
Efficient Modern Transportation
Like most cities in Japan, the government has ensured a modern, efficient public transportation system. The fact that crowds are less of an issue makes traveling around Sapporo cheap, easy, and satisfying.
It’s Cold Up There!
Being a higher latitude than most of Japan, Hokkaido in general, including Sapporo in particular, is colder on average – to some degree – than the rest of Japan. They even have an ice sculpture festival.
Sapporo offers bachelor degrees in the categories of arts & humanities, business & social science, and science & technology. Its English website can be found here.
Japanese-language reviews of Sapporo University as a tourist attraction have emphasized that it is ten minutes (on foot) from the nearest train station, is surprisingly vast, and is a virtual sea of green. It’s apparently very, very pretty to look at.
Walking around is no problem for tourists because Sapporo University is an open campus, meaning anyone can walk right in, for free, no questions asked.
A City With A Rural Touch
The real attraction of Sapporo University, and Sapporo itself, is that you can experience modern Japan without the usual crush of people. It’s less crowded, more relaxed, and still offers modern civilization, even with natural beauty close at hand.
Of course, being removed from the cultural epicenters of Japan means making some compromises. Certain things will probably be more expensive in Hokkaido than they would be in Honshu. Hotels don’t seem to have free Internet, for instance.
The reason Sapporo comes up as a potential destination for overseas study is because it has “sister school” relationships with a variety of non-Japanese universities. So, the university is not lacking in connections abroad.
Sapporo sounds like an interesting place to visit. Would I want to live there? Speaking personally, I live in a much more rural place, so yes, I’d probably enjoy it very much. The winters might get cold, but the worst cold in Nova Scotia seems roughly equivalent. City slickers may have a harder time adjusting, but I could really use some of that efficient modern transportation on this end. It’s an interesting mixture of nature and people, occupying a different place on the slider than options in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.