Asia Pacific

Sapporo, Japan

A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Places to Run in Sapporo

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 long paved path along the Toyohira River, namely the sections through Nakajima and Makominai parks. 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.

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, and there is a discounted day-pass option. There are also several reliable bus lines. Some can be tricky for those who don’t speak Japanese, but Sapporo is generally compact and easy to navigate.

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Some of our favorite runs in Sapporo, Japan

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Toyohira River Path

Sapporo, Japan

The top running route in Sapporo, this paved multi use path stretches over 25 km along the Toyohira River. Start from out from or run to Nakajima Park or Makominai Park for the best sections.
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Hokkaido University

Sapporo, Japan

The airy public campus of Hokkaido University has a very park-like feel with plenty of runnable paths and sidewalks. We’ve mapped a 7.5 km tour of the highlights, including Gingko Ave.
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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.
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Moerenuma Park

Sapporo, Japan

Located along the Shinoroshin River in the north of the city, this park is acclaimed for its landscape architecture and sculptures. A full loop around the park is about 10 km.
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Maruyama Park

Sapporo, Japan

This park in west Sapporo is famous for its gravel paths lined with cherry blossoms. There are also connections to dirt singletrack trails leading to some great viewpoints.
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Shin River Paths

Sapporo, Japan

The Shin River, and its branches (the Kotonihassamu River & Kotoni River) have paved and dirt pathways along the banks. They are not always the most scenic options, but good for distance. Another route, along the Nakano River in the Teine Ward.
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Toyohira River Path

Sapporo, Japan

The top running route in Sapporo, this paved multi use path stretches over 25 km along the Toyohira River. Start from out from or run to Nakajima Park or Makominai Park for the best sections.
Explore

Hokkaido University

Sapporo, Japan

The airy public campus of Hokkaido University has a very park-like feel with plenty of runnable paths and sidewalks. We’ve mapped a 7.5 km tour of the highlights, including Gingko Ave.
Explore

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.