Tourists don't travel to Hokkaido specifically for the shopping opportunities, but the provincial capital is an important shopping center for people who live on the island. Tourists can easily set aside a day or two to explore Sapporo's network of interlinking shopping malls and pick up a souvenir or gift in the process.
Sapporo's main shopping district is Li Xiao Lu 1-7. These seven roads constitute a bustling network of shops. At the center, Lane 4 leads to the subway station which connects to a collection of underground shopping malls. Fashion boutiques are especially popular, and they sell everything from name-brand Western designs to traditional cotton or silk kimonos.
Wood carvings are another popular product in Hokkaido. Many of them are produced by the Ainu and take animal shapes like bears, deer and owls. These and other handmade items are available in the boutiques of Sapporo as well as in museum and hotel gift shops.
Paseo is near JR Sapporo Station and hosts more than 200 retail outlets. It is located underneath Sapporo train station and specializes in cutting-edge fashion. As one of the most accessible shopping complexes in downtown Sapporo, Paseo gets crowded during weekends and holidays.
Connected to Susukino subway station, Robinson Sapporo is anchored by Robinson department store, an excellent place to shop for international brands and well-known designer fashion. The grocery store in the basement is one of the best places in Hokkaido to shop for cheese and wine.
Housed in a historic red-brick building, this shopping complex was originally the Sapporo brewery. Now it's a multi-story shopping complex with more than 150 stores dealing in fashion, household goods and toys. Other onsite attractions include a large movie theater and the Sapporo Meissen Porcelain Museum.
Another collection of more than 150 shops, Stellar Place is a large shopping mall found inside JR Tower. It features well-known international brands in department stores and boutiques. A movie theater and the JR Tower Hotel are connected to the shopping area.
On the south side of Sapporo Station, Apia shopping complex also adjoins Stellar Place and Paseo. The entire complex is underground and hosts more than 100 shops, most of which are boutiques and gift shops.
Parco is especially popular with young shoppers, and portions of this shopping complex stay open until midnight. Its numerous shops are spread across ten floors, and the top-floor restaurant offers outstanding panoramas over the city.
This underground shopping connects to Odori subway station and hosts more than 150 shops and boutiques. Many of the shops here have an upmarket edge and appeal to more affluent shoppers.
Japan levies a five percent tax on most goods, but tourists can receive a refund on big purchases. Any purchase that exceeds 10,000 yen (a little bit over US$100) qualifies for a tax refund. In major shopping malls, most of the stores are open from 09:00 to 17:00 or 19:00. Some stores are closed on Sunday.
Find more information about Sapporo and hotels in the area:
Hokkaido hotels | Japan hotels
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