Thursday, July 16, 2015

Japan, Sapporo: Odori Park

The downtown district of Sapporo is divided in two by Odori Park, which runs about a dozen blocks east-west. A few blocks to the north is the JR (Japan Rail) station, a critical landmark for any traveler; to the south is Susukino, the lauded (and I may say, overrated) dining and drinking area. On the east end is Sapporo TV Tower, which offers an observation deck, a decent way to spend half an hour.

In addition to the Tower, the photo illustrates the other key features of Odori Park: people actually use it, there are fountains and sculptures, and there are flowers, starting with the cherry blossoms:

You want fountains and statues?

The following are named, in order, Shepherd Boy, Mother of the Frontier, and Mother and Child with Flowers:

These features were all on the north side of the park as I headed to the TV Tower. One more thing, though, before we go up in the elevator for a panoramic city view. The City of Sapporo has an ordinance forbidding smoking outside. Bars and restaurants, usually not a problem. But outside, in the open air, where whatever toxins your cigarette smoke may contain are immediately whisked off into the uncountable volume of atmosphere surrounding us: No.

So, they have these little kiosks for the "convenience" of non-smokers. Inside, there is usually a drink machine some industrial-size ashtrays, and signage about being a polite smoker (I totally did not photoshop this, I swear):

I suppose smoking actually is sort of "passing gas", so ... well done.

It seems every city of size in Japan has a tower with an observation deck and an associated gift shop you have to pass through on your way out. As I mentioned, the tower is at the east end of Odori Park, and I went there on my first day to get the lay of the land. The observation deck is at 90 meters, and the elevator takes right at one minute to ascend. Nothing to write home about (or indeed even much to blog about), but worth a half-hour--and they give you a discount ticket for an ice cream from the vendor at the base.

I think I'll do one more post about my short visit to Sapporo, so stick around to learn about a fairly dull historical site and very charming little park.

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