Sapporo Autumn Fest 2013

By Stanley Osur
This item appears on page 12 of the December 2013 issue.

Sapporo, Japan, has 1.9 million people and is the centerpiece on the northern island of Hokkaido, known in winter for its skiing and in summer offering golfing and hiking. Because of the long, harsh Hokkaido winters, the people of Sapporo have many spring, summer and autumn festivals to celebrate the great weather and relax, enjoying food and drink in famous Odori Park.

In 2008, to promote local products around Hokkaido, the city’s first autumn fest was held in Odori Park, lasting one week and occupying two blocks. Now the fest is two weeks long, covers five blocks and draws 1.3 million visitors. (The city’s most popular festivals are the Sapporo Snow Festival, held in early February, and the Yosakoi Soran Festival in June.)

The Sapporo Autumn Fest is held the last two weeks of September, (sometimes going into October), ending on a Sunday night. (In 2014, it will be held Sept. 12-28.) This is normally a time of ideal weather — not too hot and well before the incredible 240-plus inches of snow Sapporo averages each year.

The five sites are broken down by chome (street), with 4-chome being the information center (no English brochures are available). Also at this site are local fresh vegetables, pottery works, flowers, etc.

The 5-chome site contains local Hokkaido dishes, such as ramen, seafood, roast pork, noodle delights and, of course, vegetables.

The 6-chome site features cultural foods of Sapporo, with local restaurants having their own booths and live entertainment.

The 7-chome site features sake along with beer and shochu, a distilled alcoholic beverage. This section is a carryover of the month-long Sapporo beer festival that dominates Odori Park from mid-July through mid-August.

Grab a table, get some bottles of your favorite beverage and spend a few hours with friends. I did this the last day of this year’s festival.

The 8-chome site has a huge supermarket of products from all over the island. About 90 municipalities are represented.

Overall, it was very crowded on the weekends and there were even sizeable crowds during the week. The businesslike hotel where I stayed had 426 rooms and was completely full. On Monday, the day after the festival, the hotel was less than 25% occupied.

Much fun and good food and drink!


Hawthorne, NJ