Spring time in Sapporo means going for walks in city gardens and experiencing nature in full bloom. Conveniently located a short walk from both of the city’s two main train stations, Sapporo and Odori, is the Botanic Garden of Hokkaido University. Closed in the winter, the grounds are now open to display nearly 4000 varieties of plant life over an area of 400 square meters.
As the gardens are owned and operated by the nearby Hokkaido University, it means that the oldest botanical gardens in the country (opened in 1886), has a mandate driven by research and education. This doesn’t mean that the gardens design and variety suffer as a result, but it does mean your picnic has to be “non-alcoholic.”
There is a small national treasures and Ainu museum in a separate building, a large greenhouse with an adjoining café and a number walking paths throughout the grounds. The gardens contain everything from old growth forest to traditional Ainu herb gardens with the entire area taking at least 1 to 2 hours to fully enjoy.
The main entrance to the Botanical Gardens is only a 10 minute walk south from Sapporo Station or conversely, a ten minute walk north from Odori station. There is a large green field called the north lawn which allows visitors to enjoy an outdoor lunch, and of course there are toilet facilities on-site. If you’d prefer to walk around completely unencumbered, coin-operated lockers are available for free, but do require a ¥100 deposit (refundable). If you happen to have luggage that exceeds the space of the locker, the reception will hold your belongings while enjoy your time at the gardens.
There is an entrance fee, but it is modestly priced at ¥400 for adults and ¥280 for those under age 16. The opening hours are from 9:00 to 16:30, with the last tickets being sold at 16:00.
While you are making your way around the accessible city center, the botanical gardens should be included in your daytime itinerary. You can choose to make the stop part of a larger walking tour or even as a quick visit in between your layover at the train station.