Japan’s best beer festival takes over downtown Sapporo for a month every summer.
Sapporo is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Japan. Its wide streets and tree-lined boulevards give the city an almost European feel. Cafes and coffee shops proliferate throughout the city and the center is packed with a fantastic range of shops, restaurants and bars.
Sapporo is most alive during its festivals. The most famous is the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri which takes place in February. Just as enjoyable is the summer beer festival, though, when Odori Koen, the park that runs through the heart of the city, is transformed into a giant brewery. Each of Japan’s leading breweries has a plaza where they create a bar and outdoor seating for the Sapporoites to enjoy from late afternoon until around 10pm. An international tent offers a wide selection of beers from around the world. Look for unusual bargains, like Kirin’s renowned Bikuri Tower (literally ‘surprise tower’), a 3-foot-tall, 3-liter tankard with a tap on the bottom for the perfect pour.
For anyone who wants to get a taste of Japanese urban life, a few days in Sapporo during the festival is an ideal place to be.
When to go: The festival starts on July 21 and ends on August 20 after a full month of fun in the park.