Sapporo is the capital of Japan’s northernmost and mountainous island of Hokkaido. The city is well known for its beer, skiing and annual snow festival which features an amazing display of snow sculptures. Sapporo is a great place for souvenir shopping as it is one of Japan’s leading tourist areas and many of the souvenirs are edible ones which are always popular!
There are various shopping areas in Sapporo including Tanukikoji 5-Chome which is an arcaded shopping street in the heart of the city. If you are looking for unusual food souvenirs, the Hokkaido Lifestyle Department Store is well worth visiting as it stocks food items from all over the region. Sapporo Factory is a large shopping and entertainment complex that was built on the site of the country’s first beer factory. There are 160 shops and restaurants spread over five floors, plus a multi-screen cinema.
If you enjoy markets, the Curb Market is the largest in the city and has 80 shops and restaurants all specializing in seafood. Nijo Market sells fresh fish and other local produce.
If shopping time is limited, you will find a great collection of shops at the airport. The railway station has three shopping malls – Apia, Esta, and Paseo. In Esta, there is a popular 100 yen store which is a good hunting ground for cheap and fun souvenirs. So, watch out for the top 10 souvenirs to buy in Sapporo.
1. Treat yourself to some Shiroi Koibito cookies
The translation of Shiroi Koibito is ‘White Lover’ and it is easy to see why! These delicious cookies comprise two thin crisp biscuits that are strongly flavored with vanilla and sandwiched with a layer of soft white chocolate. Each cookie is individually wrapped and they are presented in a pretty gift box. If you are really lucky, you might spot a box of the new version of Shiroi Koibito with a dark chocolate filling.
2. Enjoy the local chocolate
The Japanese love chocolate so there is a great selection available in the shops and supermarkets. Royce is a popular brand and is made in the city. Its bars are instantly recognizable as they are packaged in brown paper with different colored writing denoting the different types of chocolate – dark brown writing for plain chocolate, green for chocolate with almonds, red for milk chocolate, etc.
LeTao chocolate is beautifully presented in a bag which contains cooling gel so that the chocolate doesn’t melt! Again there are various chocolate bars to choose from including white rare, green tea and milk chocolate. If you are a fan of Tiramisu, look out for the bags of individually wrapped Tiramisu chocolates which are covered in almond-flavored chocolate – delicious!
3. Discover some new flavors of Kit Kat
Kit Kat is a really popular chocolate bar in Japan and if you too are a fan, you will be delighted to find that there are numerous flavors to try! Since 2000, 300 limited edition seasonal and regional flavors have been introduced in Japan. Popular flavors available throughout the country include adzuki (red bean) beni imo (sweet potato), miso soup and even soy sauce! In Sapporo, the top regional flavors are strawberry, blue cheesecake, and sakura (cherry blossom).
4. Grab a box of potato chip chocolate
This may sound a strange combination but it works surprisingly well! Royce makes smart cube-shaped boxes containing salty potato crisps that have been coated in milk chocolate. A popular variation is made with crisps flavored with white cheese – a box of either is great for taking to the cinema or home as an unusual souvenir.
5. Enjoy the famous Sapporo beer
Sapporo beer has been made since 1876 and is the oldest and most popular brand of beer in Japan. As a young man, Seibei Nakagawa left his home to explore the world and ended up in Germany where he learned how to make beer. He returned home and founded the first beer company – which has been making excellent lagers ever since. Today there are four different beers in the range. In 1984 the first exports of Sapporo beer to the United States were made and today, Sapporo Premium is the top-selling Asian beer there.
A fun way to enjoy Sapporo beer is to visit the city’s beer museum. After learning all about the history of the beer, there is the opportunity to taste some. Next to the museum is the popular Sapporo Beer Garden which has restaurants where you can drink all the beer you want and eat as much barbecued food as you like for a fixed price.
6. Choose a colorful umbrella
The Japanese are certainly positive about the rain as they make colorful umbrellas with vibrant designs including mountain scenes, floral decorated koi carp and Japanese women in national costume. The umbrellas are good quality and are often sold with a protective sleeve.
7. Sip some wine with healthy benefits
Otaru Bijin-Junmai Ginjo is a refreshing fruity wine that is said to be good for you as it is rich in collagen, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C – not only will you have soft, supple skin but also a healthy body. The wine is presented in a particularly attractive bottle as the label has a line drawing of a beautiful young Japanese girl wearing a kimono.
8. Visit a health and beauty shop
These shops are particularly beautiful as Japanese ladies take health and beauty very seriously. The beauty products are made from such natural ingredients as kelp, lavender oils from Furano and honey. There are gorgeous cosmetics to buy in all the latest colors and lovely fragrances too. The stores also cater to men with some great toiletries and health supplements to try.
9. Find some horse oil products
Hokkaido island is known for its beautiful horses that roam wild in the countryside and horse oil products are available in many local health shops. Soap made from horse oil is said to rejuvenate and soften the skin, whilst horse oil nourishes the hair.
10. Select some soft leather
There are several specialist shops in the city, stocking leather made from sika deer. Herds of these deer can still be found in the forests of Hokkaido. The leather is exceptionally soft and supple and is made into beautiful bags of all shapes and sizes as well as wallets, purses, belts and key fobs.