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Sapporo Summer Festival 2018
July 20, 2018 - July 29, 2018
Summers in Japan are hot and humid and not always considered to be an ideal time to visit the country, but not so in Sapporo, capital of the mountainous island of Hokkaido. Located in the extreme north, Hokkaido is blessed with mild summers making it a pleasant period to enjoy the Sapporo Summer Festival 2018. Lasting a whole month, it’s actually a variety of events packaged into a single festival attracting both local visitors and tourists.
Most of the events take place in Odori Park which really is a long, broad and leafy street that was built in 1871 as a firebreak dividing central Sapporo into two. Home to Sapporo Breweries, the oldest beer brand in Japan, the centre piece of Sapporo’s Summer Festival 2018 is a massive beer garden in Odori Park. Stretching about one km and seating some 13,000 beer-drinking souls, it’s the country’s largest beer garden attracting more than a million visitors. From 20 July to 15 August thirsty visitors can taste and compare beer from local brewers and around the world, one of the island’s most famous outdoor events.
Hokkaido is not just an excellent place to visit in the summer, if you want a different place to ski then you can head to the slopes at Niseko. Read Skiing in Japan for the Over 40s.
But the Sapporo Summer Festival 2018 is certainly not all about beer. Other events include the display of colourful Tanabata decorations that celebrate the reunification of the stars Vega and Altair which are believed to be the Japanese lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi, popular with couples (this year it falls on 7 July); the Tanuki festival (29 July) – named after the Japanese raccoon dog known in folklore as a shapeshifter – where processions of Tanuki shrines take place in the kilometre-long roofed Tanukikoji Arcade which, with over 140 years of history, is one of the oldest shopping areas in Hokkaido; the traditional Susukino festival (3-5 August) with gaudy processions, music and a line-up of hundred different food stalls. From mid July to late September there are also firework festivals held all over Sapporo with its most famous ones the Hokkaido Makomanai Music Fireworks (7 July), the Doshin UHB Fireworks (27 July) and the Moerenuma Artistic Fireworks (8 September). And for music lovers 14 to 22 July sees a impressive host of both free and ticketed Jazz events throughout Sapporo featuring domestic as well as international artists, while 10 and 11 August see the Rising Sun Rock Festival, Hokkaido’s premier rock festival attracting music fans from all over the country, including families.
Concluding the Sapporo Summer Festival 2018 are the traditional Bon Odori dances in Odori Park. Originally held to honour the souls of ancestral spirits that have returned during the summer, today the dances are a celebration with simple choreography where everyone can join in.