Asia Pacific

Sapporo, Japan

Includes Routes in Otaru

Located on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Sapporo is the fifth largest city in Japan, known for its annual Snow Festival, top-notch Ramen, and eponymous beer. The city hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics. Originally an indigenous Ainu settlement, Sapporo sits along the plain of the Toyohira River at the base of Mt. Moiwa. The well-organized layout showcases a variety of parks that offer great running in Sapporo year-round, from the colorful Gingko leaves of fall to the cherry blossoms of spring. Note: Sapporo is one of the snowiest major cities in the world, averaging 235 inches annually. Plan accordingly!

The most popular place to run in Sapporo is the 20+ km of paths along the Toyohira River, namely the sections through Nakajima and Makominai parks. A great combo run is to combine Odori Park, river path, & Nakajima Park. Other favorite spots include the airy campus of Hokkaido University, downtown’s Odori Park, and Moerenuma Park north of the city (acclaimed for its landscape architecture and sculptures). Asahiyama Memorial Park, Nopporo Forest Park, and  Maruyama Park have a good combination of easier paths and hillier tracks good for trail running. For longer, flat runs, there are river paths along the Shin and its tributaries. We’ve also included two routes in Otaru, the port city adjacent to Sapporo.

Notes: In winter, paths aren’t generally maintained. Best winter running bets are the Hokkaido University Campus and Nopporo Forest Park. The Sapporo city subway is the best method for traveling between Sapporo running routes. The three transit lines have stops at or near most of our running route locations. There’s also a good bus system.

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Some of our favorite runs in Sapporo, Japan

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Odori Park

Sapporo, Japan

A long linear park in central Sapporo, this prized green space has a 3 km loop (intersected by several streets), but it makes a nice addition to the Hokkaido University or Toyohira River routes.

Sapporo has a humid, continental climate, with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. It is one of the world’s snowiest major cities, averaging more than 235 inches (600mm) annually, with measurable snow on most days December-March. But winter high temperatures typically climb to near freezing, so it’s no Montreal. Spring is delightful, with lovely cherry blossoms, while foliage in autumn is among the prettiest among Asian cities. Summers are warm and pleasant, but can be rainy.

Hotels in Sapporo are primarily located around the center of the city. See Sapporo.Travel for lodging information.

Sapporo has many chain shoe and sporting goods stores, including Sports Kan, Sports Depot, Asics, Adidas, North Face, Nike, and Under Amour.

We haven’t heard of any running groups in Sapporo, but Samurai Sports is a good resource for athletic clubs and events in Japan.

The Sapporo Marathon, held each fall, and the Hokkaido Marathon, held each summer, are the most popular running events in the city.