Sapporo is one of the popular tourist attractions in Japan and, as of 2006, the annual number of tourists had reached 14,104,000, which was an increase of 5.9% over the previous year (13,323,000 in 2005). 2006 was also the first year for Sapporo when the number of tourists exceeded 14 million.
Sapporo is known as the birthplace of miso ramen, a ramen noodle dish using miso, and Sapporo ramen is also widely known. The Kouraku Ramen Meitengai, an alley lined with many ramen restaurants, was established in 1951 in Susukino district. After its demolition due to plans for the Sapporo Olympics, the Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho was established in the same place. It attracts many tourists throughout the year. From the year 1966, a food company named Sanyo Foods began to sell instant ramen under the brand name "Sapporo Ichiban." In 2001, Sapporo ramen was listed as one of the Hokkaido Heritage along with Asahikawa ramen and Hakodate ramen. On October 1, 2004, the Sapporo Ramen Republic, a theme park focused on ramen, was opened at the 10th floor of Sapporo Esta, a commercial complex in front of Sapporo Station.
Soup curry, a liquid curry with vegetables and chicken, is also one of the specialties in Sapporo. Plenty of soup curry restaurants are in the cities and towns in Hokkaido. Sapporo Sweets, a confectionery using many ingredients from Hokkaido, is popular, and the Sapporo Sweets Competition is held annually.
The Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara is the main musical venue in Sapporo, in Nakajima Park in Chuo-ku. It is home to the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, a local professional orchestra organized in 1961: Their regular concerts are held in this hall. The open-air stage in Sapporo Artpark is another music venue. The Pacific Music Festival (PMF), an event started with the idea of Leonard Bernstein in 1990, is held in both places. The Sapporo Artpark, in Minami-ku, contains public arts, an art museum, and the old house of Takeo Arishima. Other art museums in Sapporo include the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, the Sapporo Museum of Sculpture, and the Migishi Kotaro Museum of Art, Hokkaido. The Hokkaido Museum of Literature, located in Nakajima Park, has hosted many exhibitions, seminars, and other educational activities. The Sapporo Convention Center is in Shiroishi-ku: forums and events are held there. The Sapporo Salmon Museum, within Makomanai Park in Minami-ku, mainly displays materials related to the ecology of salmon. The Sunpiazza Aquarium is close to the Sapporo Science Center in Atsubetsu.
Many historical buildings, as well as shopping malls and parks, are in Sapporo and draw many tourists. Historic landmarks include the former Hokkaidō government office building, the Sapporo Clock Tower, the Hokkaidō Shrine (Hokkaidō Jingū), and the Sapporo TV Tower. The Sapporo Factory was a former brewery of the Sapporo Brewery and is currently a huge shopping mall with many restaurants, offices, and multiplex movie theatres. Another former brewery is the Sapporo Beer Museum, which is currently a part of the Sapporo Garden Park, and houses the . The Sapporo City Archive Museum, the Edwin Dun Memorial Hall, and some old buildings in the Hokkaido University are historically important in Sapporo. Each was listed in the Registered Tangible Cultural Properties of Japan.
There are two art museums in Sapporo. The Miyanomori Art Museum has the largest collection of Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Asia and Oceania. The museum collection includes artist works from Lucio Fontana, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Lee Ufan, Guillaume Bottazzi, and Kumi Sugai. The Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art represents Hokkaido artists like Eien Iwahashi, Kinjiro Kida, Nissho Kanda, Tamako Kataoka, and especially glass objects of Ecole de Paris.
The Sapporo JR Tower, a complex building with the Tower 38 and department store, is adjacent to Sapporo Station. Being close to the main station, the Sapporo JR Tower has been visited by many tourists. The number of visitors to Tower 38, the tower with an observation deck, was 311,815 in 2006. The Sapporo TV Tower, at the eastern end of the Odori Park, is one of more modern structures and has an observation deck showing the entire Odori Park and Sapporo City. Susukino is a district having the main nightlife scene. Sapporo Ramen Yokocho, Norubesa (a building with a huge Ferris wheel)are in this district as well as many restaurants, nightclubs, bars, and adult entertainment. The district also has the Tanuki Kōji Shopping Arcade, the oldest shopping mall in the city. In Minami-ku, the district of Jōzankei is a site that has many hotels with steam baths and hot springs with many visitors.
Sapporo offers many parks and gardens. Odori Park houses buildings, such as the Sapporo TV Tower, and hosts many events including Yosakoi Soran Festival, Sapporo Lilac Festival, Sapporo White Illumination, and the Sapporo Snow Festival. In Nakajima Park, there are landmarks including Hōheikan, an old hotel building moved from Odori Park, and the Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara. Maruyama Park is located next to the Hokkaido Shrine and houses the Maruyama Zoo. The Moerenuma Park is in Higashi-ku and houses many open-air art compositions including the Glass Pyramid, planned by Isamu Noguchi. The Chizaki Rose Garden provides roses, and the Hokkaido University Botanical Gardens has many types of plants and historically important buildings. The Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill has a farm with sheep and attracts visitors with a statue of William S. Clark.
Each February, the Sapporo Snow Festival is held. The main site is the Odori Park, and other sites include Susukino (known as the Susukino Ice Festival) and the Sapporo Satoland. Once Makomanai area in Minami-ku was one of the festival sites, but it was abolished and moved to the Satoland site in 2006. Many of the snow and ice statues are built by the armies of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. In 2006, the number of visitors at the Sapporo Snow Festival marked 1,985,000.
Every May, the Sapporo Lilac Festival is held. Lilac was brought to Sapporo in 1889 by an American educator, Sarah Clara Smith. At the festival, people enjoy the flower and wine with concerts.
Every June, the Yosakoi Soran Festival is held. The sites of the festival are centered in the Odori Park and the street leading to Susukino, and there are other festival sites. In the festival, many dance teams dance to their music which are composed based on a Japanese traditional song, "Sōran Bushi." Members of the dancing teams wear special costumes and compete on the roads or stages constructed on the festival sites. In 2006, 350 teams were organized with around 45,000 dancers and over 1,860,000 people visited at the festival.
During the summer, the Sapporo Summer Festival takes place in the heart of the city. People enjoy drinking in the beer gardens constructed in Odori Park and on the streets of Susukino district. This festival consists of a number of fairs such as Tanuki Festival and Susukino Festival as well as the Odori Park site.
From November through January, many citizens enjoy the Sapporo White Illumination.
The Sapporo Dome was constructed in 2001 and currently is the host to the local soccer team, Consadole Sapporo, and the baseball team, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Once Sapporo was selected to be the host of the 5th Winter Olympics scheduled on February 3 to 12, 1940, but Japan had to give the Games back to the IOC, after the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937.
In 1972, Sapporo hosted the 11th Winter Olympics. Some structures built for Olympic events remain in use today, including the ski jumps at Miyanomori and Okurayama. In 2002, Sapporo hosted three group matches of the FIFA World Cup at the Sapporo Dome.
In 2006, Sapporo hosted some games of the FIBA World Championships. In 2007, Sapporo hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships at the Sapporo Dome, Miyanomori ski jump, Okurayama ski jump, and the Shirahatayama cross country course. It has been host city of two Asian Winter Games and will again in 2017 with Obihiro.
Skiing remains a major sport in Sapporo with almost all children skiing as a part of the school curriculum. Okurayama Elementary School is unusual in having its own ski hill and ski jumping hill on the school grounds. Within the city are commercial ski hills including Moiwayama, Bankeiyama, KobaWorld, Sapporo Teine and Fu's.
Many sports stadiums and domes are located in Sapporo, and some of them have been designated as venues of sports competitions. The Sapporo Community Dome, also known by its nickname "Tsu-Dome", has hosted to the Golden Market, a huge flea market event which is usually held twice in a year, along with some sports events. The Makomanai Ice Arena, in the Makomanai Park, was one of the venues of the Sapporo Olympics in 1972. It was renamed the Makomanai Sekisuiheim Ice Arena in 2007, when Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd., acquired its naming rights and renamed the arena after their real estate brand. Other large sports venues include the Makomanai Open Stadium, the Tsukisamu Dome, the Maruyama Baseball Stadium, and the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center.
The Toyota Big Air is a major international snowboarding event held annually in Sapporo Dome. As one of the richest events of its kind in the world it draws many of the world's best riders.
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