Sapporo: Modern Japan Without The Crowds

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 University

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.

International Connections

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.

Overall

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.

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for Technorati.com and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: jeremiahbourque@gmail.com
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2 Responses to Sapporo: Modern Japan Without The Crowds

  1. AdelaideBen says:

    Having had a reasonably long association with Sapporo through my wife, I can thoroughly recommend Sapporo as a great place to live – especially if you’re a winter/snow kinda person. It’s the fifth largest city in Japan, and a modern trendy metropolis that’s just minutes away from some great scenery. It’s an easy place to get around, and the food’s fantastic (especially seafood, but all of the fresh produce is great). The only catch is that if you don’t like snowy winters, than please avoid. The other slight downside is that because the city is relatively new (from the 1860’s or thereabouts), and Hokkaido was opened up to mainstream Japanese colonisation around the same time, the island does lack a lot of the historical Japanese cultural icons. There’s no ancient temples or real castles – and you won’t see too many women walking around in kimono. But if you’re more interested in modern Japan, than that won’t be a problem.

    Although I’m also not familiar with the universities in Sapporo, I’d definitely recommend the city to all people that want to live in Japan…. but want to avoid the big city crush.

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