The first time we visited Sapporo we had been living in Thailand for 2 years, and quite frankly, I was over the heat. The idea of spending our holiday in the northern most part of Japan, Hokkaido, with snow scenes that look as if they came right off a Christmas album was just the ticket! That trip we only stayed in Hokkaido for a couple of nights, and that wasn’t enough. 

This time, I wanted to take my time getting to Sapporo and really spend time at each stop, explore, and eat our hearts out (because each region in Japan takes so much pride in their local food). So, we set off from Kyoto to Sapporo, and a few places in between. 

Snow Sapporo Train Travel Japan

What To Do 

The most efficient way to travel in Japan is by train. Not only does train travel spare you the 2 hour security check, but it is also economical. By purchasing a Japan Rail Pass you can make multiple stops without having to pay for each leg. And what’s even better, is that you can see beautiful countryside on your journey in a much more comfortable seat than on an airplane. 

Fukushima– Our first stop was Fukushima, which was just a pit-stop to get closer to my first attraction: The Zao Fox Village. 

However, prior to our arrival I checked the city’s travel guide and saw there was a festival at a local temple. 

It was interesting to see, and participate in, but I doubt I would ever go back specifically for that. 

Zao Fox Village– My eye was on the prize. The prize of holding a cute, cuddly fox! Sounds kinda crazy, right? But it was so interesting to see how nonchalant they were toward humans. I know over time they have become accustomed to human interaction, as this is a tourist park, but I have read about foxes being friendly toward humans. 

Fox village Japan yawning

Although they are canines, their behavior reminded me more of a feline. Most of them were curled up and bathing in the sun, while some were a little frisky with each other. They are mostly nocturnal, so don’t get the idea that they are drugged or sedated. 

Finally, 11am hit and it was time to hold my very own fox! As soon as it was handed to me, I turned to Joey and said, “I want one!” 

Smiling Fox Village Japan Winter Excited
Fox Village Japan snuggle sleepy

We were only permitted to hold and cuddle for a few minutes. Not NEARLY enough, hence why my inner Veruca Salt side came out. But it was worth every second! 

Sapporo– Next, we were off to Sapporo. And here’s why: 

Snow sculpture building Sapporo Japan
Ice sculpture Japan Sapporo Snow Festival
hot mulled wine snow mitten

If you can bear 11 degree high’s, the Annual Sapporo Snow Festival is a great time! Yummy Japanese festival foods, like meats on a stick, teppanyaki, and , hot ciders and mulled wine, and lots of fun activities. It’s a great affair for the whole family! 

My favorite annual tradition is to visit Nakajima Park and play in the snow! It’s amazing that I see children play in 30- degree temperatures in Kyoto, but in Sapporo snow… no kids! So there is a LOT of untouched powder that brings out the child in me. 

playing in snow Japan trees snowing winter coat
Snow Park Evergreen trees snowing winter

Where to Eat

Now, it’s kinda of a tourist activity, but eating at the Sapporo Bier Garten is a MUST! It’s 4100 yen for all-you-can-eat Ghengis Khan (local mutton) and all-you-can-drink Sapporo beer for 90 min. 

*The fresh mutton is quite heavy, so I recommend going midday. Plus, less crowds between 2-5 because most Japanese don’t eat during that time. 
Sapporo bier garten snow snowing lamp post

Ghengis Khan may be a popular local dish, but Hokkaido is most famously known for their dairy! I recommend popping into a grocery and try milk from the local farms. The taste is so clean and pure, you’d think it came straight from the udder. 

milk bottles Hokkaido cow

My all-time favorite for dairy, dessert. Rokkatei serves a creamy soft serve and seasonally fresh, red, ripe strawberries. A treat so delicious, you’ll want to order your own. 

soft serve ice cream coffee cup dessert strawberry cake

Lessons in Travel: 

My rule of thumb for Japan packing is: it’s always “unusually cold for the time of year,” so pack extra layers. You can read about my one-bag packing list here: (Canva photo + link to “One-Bag Packing List for Winter in Japan) 

one bag packing guide for winter in japan, sweaters, coats, boots

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