Sapporo, Japan - Stein Travel
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Sapporo

The most remarkable thing about the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, and its capital city Sapporo, is the contrast in temperatures between winter and summer. Sapporo, site of the 1972 Winter Olympics, is a favourite ski destination with temperatures plummeting well below freezing in December and January - the lowest ever recorded was in January 1945, when the mercury dropped to -11ºF (-24ºC). Summer time, however, sees daytime highs of above 86ºF (30ºC), although evenings and mornings remain cool and pleasant.

Because of its thick snows that turn the city into a winter wonderland Sapporo is favoured more as a winter sports destination than a spring or summer resort. There are ski-slopes within the city limits and residents often enjoy a quick run after work. Sapporo is one of Japan's newest cities, having been constructed almost from scratch as the capital of Hokkaido in 1871. Japan imported foreign technicians (including 46 Americans) to aid in the development of the city, formerly a small settlement of the native Ainu people, which has now grown to accommodate 1.8 million inhabitants. Despite a large population, Sapporo is not as crowded or densely packed as other Japanese cities. A national survey ranked it as one of the country's most desirable places to live, which is not surprising because its natural setting allows for easy access to mineral spas, mountain hikes, campsites, and superb ski runs.

Information & Facts

Climate

Sapporo has a humid continental climate with hot and rainy summer weather (June to September) and cold, snowy winters (December to March). Sapporo's snowfall is higher than most cities in the world and can reach up to 72 inches (1828mm) in January.

Language

Japanese is the official language. Most Japanese people will have studied English at school, but few can speak it well or understand what is said to them.

Money

The currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY), which is equal to 100 sen. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, but most Japanese operate with cash. Cash and travellers cheques can be exchanged in banks, post offices and currency exchange bureaux. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm. Travellers cheques offer the best exchange rate and are best taken in US dollars. ATMs do not accept all credit and debit cards; only the international ATMs in post offices, airports and some major stores.

Time

Local time is GMT +9.

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