Feed the Ducks and Ride the Boats: A Guide to Nakajima Park
You wouldn’t expect to be able to feed ducks staying in the middle of a large city like Sapporo. How wrong you would be. I am going to plan a morning for you and you are going to do exactly as I say.
Leave your hotel just after breakfast. Grab a few of those bread rolls and stuff them in your pocket. I presume you’re staying somewhere near the station so head straight down the main shopping street. You can get where we’re going by subway, but I much prefer to walk. Cross Odori park, cross the main road at the clock, walk through Susukino keeping an eye out for all the people who are just going home after a night on the town, go right to the end of the road and you will find a park. It starts at South 9 and the station is on North 4 so you’re going to have to walk about 13 blocks. Easy for a youngster like you!
Walk past the parked bicycles and the small kid’s playing area and you will find yourself in an oasis in the center of Sapporo. This is where you go when city life is getting to be too much for you.
In the center of the park is a lake and the path that circles it is exactly 1.1km. Some people use it to jog or just to walk. You can do as many laps as you wish but I’m just going to stay with you for the first one.
Turn left when you hit the main path. You’ll walk down a tree lined boulevard and you’ll see the lake on your right. Already the sounds of the city have faded away and you’re feeling a little more relaxed.
As the path starts to turn to the right you’ll see a large white building. This is the museum of literature and, at ¥600, is not cheap. You are welcome to spend a half hour wandering around but everything is in Japanese.
Follow the path around to the right. You’ll head away from the lake and you can take a network of paths leading through the field. There are statues every now and again and see if you can find the sundial. To my mind it is 15 minutes slow, but that could just be me.
As you curve around you’ll take a small bridge over a stream. You might see some children playing in the water. If the weather’s nice, why not take of your shoes and socks and have a paddle? If it’s the middle of winter, you can do the same but you might get some funny looks.
The path will open up into a wider space now and you will find yourself in front of the Kitara concert hall. If the weather is unbearably hot, pop inside for a blast of their air conditioning. It’s a very impressive building and they stage many concerts throughout the year.
Now, you may be tempted to rush for the lake again, but don’t. There are two things I want you to stop and look at first. In front of us we have the large white egg. No idea why, but my daughter loves it.
Then, a little farther along, we have the Nakajima Park Observatory on a short, raised hill. This is open all day, but obviously the best views are at night. You can look through the giant telescope and, if you are there in the daytime, they will show you a very impressive reflected image of the sun in all of its glory. They are open evenings during the summer for night viewings as well.
Now, bear with me, we’re still not going to head for the lake. Keep following the path you are on and you will come to the Japanese garden. This is an oasis within an oasis. Beautiful, peaceful and interesting. There is an old tea house at the back and you can walk around the outside of it.
Now we can head for the lake. Go back onto the path and follow it with the lake to your right. You will find a few enclaves with benches under the trees. This is where you can get that bread out of your pocket. You will be able to feed not only the ducks but also the fish, pigeons, seagulls, sparrows and sometimes crows. Trust me, they will all be grateful.
And now our lap has come to an end. Head across the bridge which, in May, is covered with cherry blossom, and you are back where we started. You have three choices from here. Go back a few meters to a café by that bridge. You can have an ice cream. Or a beer. Or a beer and an ice cream.
Or you can go around the corner and hire a rowing boat. ¥600 will get you 40 minutes. It’s very pleasant and peaceful and a little exercise to help work off last night’s indulgence.
Or you can walk back into town.
Thanks for coming around the lake with me. I had a lot of fun showing you the sights.