Sapporo’s Autumn Festival and Octoberfest
Before the excessive snow and cold weather begins, Sapporo has a festival to celebrate the slightly cooler weather and changing leaves. Food vendors from all over the area come to the city this for the annual Autumn Festival which offers attendees a chance to try cuisine both local and exotic foods.
Because of the large amount of people that show up to this festival, 立ち食い (たちぐい – standing while eating) is not only commonly practiced, it is encouraged. Around Odori Park’s various structures such as water fountains, high tables are set up in a circular fashion for people to stand and eat at.
Seemingly every major country’s cuisine seems represented here, from Thai to Indian, Turkish, German, American and more. This is one of the few times a year that one can walk the long stretch of Odori park and have unique fragrances from each country wafting through the air.
As vendors are charged fairly heavily each day to have their restaurant set up in Odori Park however, food prices are increased to compensate. However, as I learned from first-hand experience seeing what Japanese people did, if you just want to see the sights and smell the smells without the slightly overpriced food you could simply drop by the 7-11 adjacent to Odori Park and get a quick and cheap bite to eat on your journey.
For beer enthusiasts such as myself, there is also a place just for you at Octoberfest near the Television Tower in Odori Park. I was lucky enough to stop by the information desk slightly before the crosswalk to the Octoberfest area and got a few 100 yen off vouchers for beer, and I’ll tell you that I truly needed them.
The Octoberfest area had quite the impressive line of beers, as you can see. You may also notice that the prices were very steep, even by restaurant standards. Most regular sized beer glasses cost 1000 yen or more. Of course, they realize that people like me won’t let that stop them from trying as many beers as they can. After all, we came all this way to try them, and try them we did.
The area is also full of Octoberfest workers fully decked out in traditional German Lederhosen, encouraging an exuberant display of dancing and singing. A Japanese woman who seemed to speak fluent German led this dancing and singing, and sometimes even pulled people from their seats to join in on the fun.
Snacks to have with your beer was available as well, a couple of which being sour cream fries (or chips depending on where you’re from) and German sausage. For many, this festival is the last hurrah before the cold whether begins, and some frequent this festival many times before it ends it’s nearly month long span. As the old adage goes: eat, drink and be merry.
Festival Dates and locations: www.sapporo-autumnfest.jp/english
From Chitose Airport: If you need to get to Odori Park, you can take Hokuto Kotsu Bus which is also 1,030 yen bus fare. You will find these buses in the same area, via Fukuzumi Station in front of the ANA gate. The time table for these buses are here.