Portland’s sister city: Sapporo, Japan

Set your sights on Hokkaido’s capital, which has rich sporting history and ramen culture, plus reasons to visit during all four seasons.

US 7th Fleet band performs at Sapporo Snow Festival on a stage made of snow.

The Sapporo Snow Festival’s largest ever sculpture reached 82 ft high, containing 30,000 tons of snow.

Photo by U.S. Navy

Portland and Sapporo, Japan, are much more than beer buddies — in fact, the sister cities go way back to 1959, making it the Rose City’s oldest international relation.

Strong economic cooperation and mutual cultural appreciation have always bridged the two across the Pacific, from the dedication of the only Benson Bubbler on foreign soil to planting the seed for the Portland Japanese Garden’s construction.

Grab your passport — it’s time for an adventure.

Billboards cover the buildings of Sapporo's Susukino entertainment district. Tram cables criss-cross over a street bustling with cars.

Susukino is Sapporo’s bustling entertainment district.

Key facts

As the capital of Japan’s northernmost major island, Hokkaido, Sapporo’s colder climate and mountains make it a popular skiing destination. The city was actually the first in Asia to host the Winter Olympics in 1972. Foodies will thrive in the “City of Ramen,” the birthplace of noodles in miso broth, where slurping is not rude, but rather a way to show your appreciation for the dish. Spring and summer bring cherry blossoms and festivals to the area, and fall colors peak earlier there than elsewhere in the country.

Distant gondolas travel up a green forested mountain on the Mount Moiwa Ropeway. The urban sprawl of Sapporo stretches into the distance.

Sapporo was founded in 1857 with just seven people; elevation will help put the growth of Japan’s fifth-largest city into context.

Photo by Adam Jones via Wikimedia Commons

Main attractions

You’ll want to say “kanpai” (cheers) on a visit to Sapporo Beer Museum, where you can learn the history of Japan’s oldest beer. Odori Park in the urban center is home to the Sapporo Snow Festival; each February, more than 2 million visitors travel there to see artists create towering sculptures of snow and ice.

Fresh seafood awaits at Nijo Market, you’ll find panoramic vistas at the top of the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway, and the Historic Village of Hokkaido preserves local history ranging from the Meiji period to the first arrival of the indigenous Ainu people. There’s also a chocolate theme park.

Other sister cities

Continue your travels to visit Portland’s international family with our sister city hub.

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