Take 5… Experiences in Sapporo

Delegates heading to Sapporo during skiing season are likely to be thinking of post-meeting recreation in the snow. As with other parts of Hokkaido, the resorts around Niseko also want to boost their appeal as all-year destinations. This means building its appeal to conference organisers with meeting venues at hotels and resorts.

What’s it like? Niche restaurants suitable for most budgets and tastes have cropped up over the years, but the area is also home to five-star hotels including the 499-guest room Hilton Niseko Village Hotel with ski-in, ski-out access. Niseko is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the centre
of Sapporo.  

Atmosphere There are four main resorts in the area including Niseko Village with outlets offering snowmobiles and other activities. Developers from Hong Kong and Malaysia have established chalets in the area, but Niseko Tourism Board is keen to extend the visitor season into the summer with the meetings market also targeted.


Sapporo Beer Museum
Sapporo is where Japanese beer was born, and home to one of the country’s oldest and most popular brands. Housed in a brewery built in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the museum brims with artefacts from the days when Seibei Nakagawa returned from an apprenticeship in Germany to become Sapporo’s first brewmaster.

What’s it like? Visitors are told to tour the museum from the top floor down, browsing the history of the beer from its beginnings in 1877. An enormous bronze vat takes up the height of both second and third floors and can be inspected more closely while descending a spiral walkway to the second floor. The brand’s evolution is catalogued chronologically, from 1920s posters of painted geisha to present day media of men sipping pints.

Atmosphere Next door to the museum is Sapporo Beer Garden where events can be held in its two restaurants, the Garden Grill and Genghis Khan Hall, and where beer can be accompanied by barbecued lamb. Groups can book tasting sessions at the tour’s endpoint, Star Hall. Alcohol-free beer and Sapporo soft drinks are also available.



Elm Garden
Set amid a 3,300 sqm garden, this restaurant dates back to 1946. It’s one of the city’s upscale venues and can be used for receptions and gala dinners for up to 110 guests.

What’s it like? In addition to a fine menu with a selection of wines and sake, Japanese culture is at the heart of events with performances of ikebana (flower arranging) and traditional music. 

Atmosphere The gardens form part of a backdrop to the dining area and group photographs can be taken outside during warmer months. However, the views are equally enchanting during snowfall. An evening at Elm Garden gives groups the opportunity to view ikebana, which can be the climax to an evening with guests invited to participate in the “way of the flowers”. Bookings are 9,900 yen (US$82) per head for groups of 30 or more.


Sapporo Racecourse
There are 10 courses operated by the Japan Racing Association, and Sapporo flies the flag for the sport in Hokkaido. But it is only recently that space on the ground level of the main stand has been made available for hire. One event that proved the venue’s suitability was a welcome reception for the Sapporo MICE Leaders Summit in March. 

What’s it like? In keeping with the city’s snowy climes, the walls and floors are white and Sapporo’s growing band of planners have been making use of AV suppliers, entertainment agencies and offsite caterers to great effect. The course is very likely to earn a place among the city’s unique venues. 

Atmosphere The event space is an open canvas for creative planners with enough room to allocate sections for cloakrooms, foyer, with an area for buffet stations, stage and banquet tables on the other side of a temporary partition. In keeping with the turf theme, groups can either sit and watch a live race from an enclosed section or punt on a recorded event shown on a huge screen on the other side of the home run. 


Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium
The Sapporo area has four months of snow, but venues at this Olympic ski-jump facility can also be enjoyed in the summer months. The Okurayama stadium was built for the 1972 Winter Olympics and is still used for competitions all year round and will be crucial in Sapporo’s bid for the 2026 Winter Games. The venue is a 20-minute drive from the city centre. 

What’s it like? Function space is available in the upper viewing platform, which gives panoramic views of Sapporo and a jumper’s-eye perspective of the runway immediately below. Access by chair lift adds to the occasion. Function space is also available down at the base area across from the Olympic Museum and has been regularly used for corporate events since it hosted the reception for the United Nations Meeting on Disarmament in 2007.

Atmosphere The views are a treat at night or day, and whether a snowy or summery landscape. Lighting can give the interior’s white walls and ceilings a nightclub ambience. The ground-level venue accommodates 150 for buffet and visits to the museum can also be arranged. Planners are asked to enquire with the venue for prices, but the group ski lift rate is 450 yen per person.  


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