Located on the northern island of Hokkaido, Sapporo is not just at the top of Japan geographically, it’s also a meeting destination in full sail. Named TripAdvisor 2013 Travelers' Choice, it ranked 7th among the world's top 10 destinations on the rise, while Hokkaido Prefecture itself was ranked as the most popular destination among tourists from Asia-Pacific. As the former host of 1972 Winter Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup, and other high-profile conventions such as United Nations, APEC, and G8 Summit meetings, Sapporo has definitely been flexing its meeting muscles, with more than 40 years' experience hosting major events.
Text Rémi Dévé
Compact & Convenient
With a population of 1.9 million, Sapporo is the fifth largest city in Japan and covers about the same area as Honk Kong does. But thanks to its urban set up, Sapporo is both compact and easy to navigate: all major convention facilities and hotels, as well as leisure districts and businesses, are conveniently located right in the city centre, many within walking distance to each other. Sapporo also boasts a very efficient public transport system including subway, providing easy access in and around the city.
Sapporo is easily accessible for convention participants from overseas: several international and domestic air routes are directly connected to Sapporo New Chitose Airport, including the busiest air route in the world, Tokyo Haneda - Sapporo New Chitose, with over 50 flights per day. Whether for business or leisure, it is only an hour and a half flight between Tokyo and Sapporo. International direct flights to Sapporo include routes from major capitals in Asia such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, and Bangkok. And once at New Chitose Airport, it will take only 35 minutes to get to the city centre via Airport Express.
One of the major concerns for MICE organisers is reasonable rates, and here again Sapporo doesn’t disappoint!
One of the major concerns for MICE organisers is reasonable rates, and here again Sapporo doesn’t disappoint! When it comes to accommodation in Japan’s most walkable city, the prices and the selection are unbeatable, with various high-quality, internationally or domestically renowned brand hotels. There are over 20,000 rooms in the city centre of Sapporo.
If Hokkaido University, which is located right in the city centre just north of Sapporo Station, is specifically advanced in the liberal arts, the institution’s advanced fields of specialisation also range from Geophysics, Biotechnology and Chemistry - it has been the home to 2010 Nobel Prize Laureate for Chemistry, Dr. Akira Suzuki.
Sapporo is also an advanced centre for medicine sciences, with Hokkaido University and Sapporo Medical University taking an active role in the development of the field. Worth noting is that Hokkaido has been the centre of Veterinary Sciences and Agriculture for quite a while as well, making Japan an expert in this area.
No wonder then Sapporo has hosted various prestigious conferences such as the 23rd General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG 2003, 4,500 participants from 99 countries/regions at Royton Sapporo Hotel), the 16th International Microscopy Congress 2006 (IMC 2006, 2,300 participants from 55 countries at Sapporo Convention Center), or the International Union of Microbiological Societies 2011 Congress (IUMS 2011, 4,800 participants from 66 countries/regions at Sapporo Convention Center).
This year, Sapporo is the proud host of the 26th International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry (ICOMC 2014), the 11th International Congress of Neoroethology (ICN 2014), and the 11th Annual Meeting of Asia Oceania Geosciences Society 2014 (AOGS 2014), with over 4,000 participants.
Not to forget sports events, kicking it off big with 1972 Winter Olympics. As the world’s only destination for its famous powder snow, Sapporo has been the host of various high profile winter sports events such as FIS Nordic World Ski Championship 2007, as well as 2002 FIFA World Cup and Iron Man Hokkaido Japan triathlon in the summer. In 2017, Sapporo will host the Asian Winter Games, which will be another achievement for the city.
For those of you weather-conscious, you should know that Sapporo stays pleasant and dry all year round. With green covering over 60% of the total area of the city, the coexistence with nature is what makes Sapporo so unique, giving countless opportunities - whether you like sea, woodlands or mountains - for visitors to get out and explore the picturesque countryside abound with natural activities and delicious food, which includes the world-famous Sapporo Beer and Nikka Whiskey. In terms of pre- or post-conference activities, Sapporo might well be a dream come true!
In fact, Sapporo/Hokkaido is one of the rarest and most exciting areas geoscientifically speaking, complete with volcanos, hot springs, deep lakes and mountains. Jyozankei Hot Springs for instance is located just 50 minutes drive away from the city centre. Noboribetsu Hot Springs, another well-known destination for relaxation, just a two-hour drive from Sapporo, is famous for its Hell Valley - a smoking thermally active spring with many outlets and bubbling streams. The site of G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit 2008, a huge volcanic-caldera Lake Toya, including Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Global Geopark, is another popular destination. Just three hours away downtown Sapporo, the area is an unmissable spot for hiking, trekking, camping, kayaking, and other sporting activities.
And let’s not forget skiing as mentioned above! One of the world’s top destinations for best powder skiing is located just three hours away, in a town called Niseko. When it comes to high quality, it is not just about its powder snow, but the services available at Niseko, with facilities such as Hilton Niseko Village, which in 2013 received World Ski Award as Japan’s Best Ski Resort. The area is also a popular golfing destination.
Situated only 45 minutes by train from Sapporo, Otaru will surprise you with a delicious sushi straight from the ocean, while in Furano, a town three hours away from Sapporo, one can spend hours walking around extensive flowers fields and forests. Located in the northeast of Hokkaido, Shiretoko National Park, literally meaning "end of the Earth", is one of the richest integrated ecosystems in the world and UNESCO World Heritage site.
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