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January

New Year's visit to a shrine

Japanese people, including those who are not faithful Buddhism or Shinto believers, customarily visit temples and shrines at the beginning of the year. From New Year's midnight, many worshippers visit the Hokkaido Shrine located close to the downtown area.

Related website
Hokkaido Shrine
http://www.hokkaidojingu.or.jp/

Options
Ski jumping

Ski jumping competitions are annually held in Sapporo from January to March. In the World Cup, in particular, world-famous jumpers demonstrate dynamic jumping from the Okurayama Jump Hill that overlooks Odori Park below. The ski lift takes tourists to the jumping platform. It is also possible to see jumpers practicing here.

Related website
FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Sapporo 2007
http://www.sapporo2007.com/jp/index.htm

Local temperature and what to wear
-7.7 - -0.9 In January, which is the coldest month of the year, it snows almost every day. A thick coat, cap (preferably long enough to cover your ears), gloves are indispensable. Attach anti-slipping devices (sold at around ¥1,000 at local stores) to your shoes.
February Sapporo Snow Festival

In this world-famous festival, huge snow sculptures (as high as 15 meters), small sculptures made by local citizens, works for international snow sculpture competitions stand in a row throughout Odori Park. The view of pure white sculptures sparkling against the blue sky on fine days is breathtaking, and they also look great when lit up in the evening.

Related website
Sapporo Snow Festival
http://www.snowfes.com/

TOYOTA Big Air

A world-class snowboarding event held in Sapporo. In this international snowboarding/straight jumping competition, the world's topnotch snowboarders overwhelm visitors with their acrobatic air techniques from a slope with a height of more than 30 meters.

Local temperature and what to wear
-7.2 - -0.3 As in January, cold weather outfits are a must. Watch your step in the Snow Festival venue, where it is particularly slippery.
March

JFSS Cup International Dog-sled Race

This dog-sled race, which attracts more than 100 teams from within and outside Hokkaido, concurrently serves as a national preliminary to the World Cup. Enjoy dogs' dynamic runs through the snowfield. Tourists can also experience dog sledding.

J League Season starts

As one of the J League (Japan's pro soccer league) opening games of the season, Consadole Sapporo (Hokkaido's first pro sport team) plays at the Sapporo Dome, which is the first in the world to have a hovering system to use this facility both as a soccer stadium and as a ball park.

Related website
Sapporo Dome
http://www.sapporo-dome.co.jp/

Local temperature and what to wear
-3.5 - 3.5 Snow begins to melt, but the highest temperature still remains below zero on some days. Winter clothes are necessary.
April Professional baseball season starts

Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, who moved their base to Sapporo in 2004, hold games at the Sapporo Dome.

Related website
Sapporo Dome
http://www.sapporo-dome.co.jp/

Local temperature and what to wear
2.7 - 11.1 Snow melts in the downtown area, but there are still some cold days. You should bring a coat just in case.
May Cherry blossom viewing

Cherry blossom viewing is one of the charming sights in spring in Japan. Of renowned beautiful cherry blossom sites in Sapporo, Maruyama Park is particularly popular and attracts many local residents coming to enjoy barbeque parties while admiring the sight. There are many chic restaurants and stores in and around the park.

Sapporo Lilac Festival

A variety of events are held in Odori Park in late May, when lilacs, the official tree of Sapporo, are in full bloom. Visitors can also experience a tea ceremony held in the open air.

Related website
Sapporo Lilac Festival
http://www.sweb.co.jp/kanko/lilac/

Local temperature and what to wear
7.8 - 17.0 Flowers begin to bloom, but the wind is still cold. You should bring a spring coat.
June YOSAKOI Soran Festival

Initiated by Hokkaido University students, this festival has developed into one of the largest-scale events in Hokkaido next to the Snow Festival. Some 2 million visitors come from within and outside Hokkaido to see unique dancing in Odori Park and other venues in Sapporo by a variety of teams attending from throughout Japan.

Related website
YOSAKOI soran
http://www.yosanet.com/yosakoi/

Hokkaido Shrine Festival This century-old festival has been fully integrated into Sapporo residents' lives, as indicated in its nickname "Sapporo Festival".
People clad in Heian Era costumes march through the city while pulling portable shrines and floats. The grand parade, which reminds viewers of historical stroll paintings, is worth seeing. Nakajima Park, where a variety of stalls are established, also becomes crowded with many people.

Related website
Hokkaido Jingu
http://www.hokkaidojingu.or.jp/
Local temperature and what to wear
12.4 - 21.1 You can dress lightly during the day, but a jacket may be handy in the evening.
July Pacific Music Festival (PMF)

This international educational music festival was initiated by the late Leonard Bernstein to give young musicians worldwide a chance to nurture their talents. A variety of events (educational programs, concerts, recitals, etc.) by world-renowned artists are held during the festival.

Related website
PMF
http://www.pmf.or.jp/

Toyohira Raft Festival

Started in 1975, this summer event has been held thirty times now. Participants go down the Toyohira River running through the central Sapporo area on tire tubes or other handmade rafts.

Asahiyama Music Festival Against the backdrop of Sapporo nightscapes and fireworks, a large choir of local residents participating in this event sing enthusiastically. This music festival put together by local residents also invites renowned jazz musicians and opera singers active in and outside Japan.
Toyohira River Firework Festival This firework festival, held three consecutive Friday nights from late July to early August, has been firmly established as a typical summer event. A large crowd of local residents enjoy viewing thousands of fireworks set off from around the Toyohira Minami Ohashi Bridge.

Related website
An Exhibition of Fireworks at Toyohira-River 2005
http://www.dosanko.co.jp/hid/hanabi2005/
Sapporo Summer Festival

Beer gardens and bon festivals are held in Odori Park. The beer gardens set up in each section of Odori Park become venues for various events, thus serving as one of the charming sights of summer in Sapporo.

Related website
Sapporo Summer Festival
http://www.sweb.co.jp/kanko/natsu/

Local temperature and what to wear
17.1 - 25.0 The temperature sometimes rises above 30°C in the daytime, and short-sleeves are appropriate. Because of low humidity, you may feel chilly after sunset, so a jacket may come in handy.
August Susukino Festival This festival is held in Susukino, the largest entertainment district north of Tokyo. One of its regular events is Oiran Dochu (courtesan parade), in which women dressed in shiny courtesan costumes parade through the street. Portable shrine parades and drum sessions are also held.

Local temperature and what to wear
18.5 - 26.1 Although the humidity level is low, the temperature sometimes rises above 30°C, so short-sleeves are appropriate. The temperature may drop significantly after mid August.

September Linkage Up Festival

A great food festival with many Hokkaido municipalities participating. Specialties from around Hokkaido are displayed and sold at the venue. You can enjoy local tastes from various parts of Hokkaido without leaving Sapporo.

Related website
Sapporo Broad Area Information
http://www.kouiki.chuo.sapporo.jp/

Tour de Hokkaido

Japan's largest-scale bicycle road race held in Hokkaido. Some 100 teams of business people, students and others bike through Hokkaido in early autumn over a few days.

Local temperature and what to wear
13.6 - 22.0 The chilly winds begin to blow and you may feel cold in the early morning and late evening. The mountain leaves change color from mid September.
October Sapporo Chrysanthemum Festival

This festival has been held for forty times to date. Some 800 chrysanthemums from around Hokkaido are displayed along the path of the Odori underground shopping arcade. Seminars on chrysanthemum cultivation are also held.

Related website
Sapporo Chrysanthemum Festival
http://www.sweb.co.jp/kanko/kiku/

Local temperature and what to wear
6.9 - 15.8 A jacket is a must even in the daytime.
November

Sapporo White Illumination

Street trees and objects in Odori Park and other places are decorated with colorful electric sparklers. The illuminated street against the backdrop of the snow-clad Odori Park produces a fascinating view.

Related website
Sapporo White Illumination
http://www.sweb.co.jp/kanko/white/

Local temperature and what to wear
0.9 - 8.1 It begins snowing and the lowest daily temperature sometimes drops below 0°C. Outfits for cold weather (coat, cap, gloves, scarf) become necessary.
December German Christmas Market in Sapporo

This event was initiated to commemorate the 30th anniversary of sister-city affiliation between Sapporo and Munich, Germany. With German stalls selling Christmas ornaments and sweets set up along the street, a real atmosphere of German Christmas is produced in Sapporo. Please enjoy hanging out in the central park with a glass of hot wine in your hand.

Related website
German Christmas Market in Sapporo
http://www.city.sapporo.jp/christmas-market/

Local temperature and what to wear
-4.4 - 2.1 The real winter has set in. The highest daily temperature drops below 0°C for the half month. You should protect yourself thoroughly with winter clothes.

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 Other events in Hokkaido

January

Winter Purification Festival
Drift ice watching tour
Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan
Lake Shikotsu Hyoto Festival
February Sounkyo Hyobaku Festival
Otaru Snow Light Road
Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival
Mt. Showa Shinzan Snowball Fighting
Shibare Festival
April Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival
May Sibazakura Festival
June Shiretoko Opening Festival
July Otaru Ushio Festival
Lavender Festival
Sun Flower Festival
August Hakodate Port Festival
Showa Shinzan Fire Festival
Giant maze of corn
September Rally Japan
October Ikeda Wine Festival
November Southern Hokkaido Ekiden Road Relay
December Diamond Dust in KAWAYU
Hakodate Christmas Fantasy

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