Like Kabukicho in Tokyo, the Susukino neighborhood in Sapporo holds the distinction of being one of Japan’s major red-light districts. Here we will focus on a different side of Susukino: namely, its role as a ramen mecca, and a site for ice sculptures during the Sapporo Snow Festival.
During the snow festival, Odori Park is the main site for snow sculptures in Sapporo. It also displays some ice sculptures.
But the main site for ice is Susukino. Sculptures of polar bears, birds, and sea creatures stretch along for a few blocks on the median of Ekimae-dori, a long avenue that begins with Sapporo Station, on the other side of Odori Park.
The ice sculptures start at the Susukino Building, marked by Nikka Whiskey’s King of Blenders sign. Every year, for one week in early February, pedestrians cross the threshold here to “Susukino Ice World.”
Susukino Ice Sculptures
On a recent trip to Sapporo to see the festival’s large-scale Star Wars snow sculpture and a few other sights, The Gaijin Ghost had the opportunity to visit Ice World again. This writer’s first visit there was back in 2014.
At night it can be very beautiful in Susukino. The Japanese website for the Susukino Tourist Association describes the milieu as “ice images emerging in a sea of neon.”
Speaking of tourism, in Susukino, hungry tourists also flock to Ramen Yokocho, an alley lined with noodle shops that serve up Sapporo’s famous miso broth with different topping combos.
The sheer wealth of options here can be a bit overwhelming, and epicureans might tell you there are better options for ramen dining in Sapporo—with Ramen Yokocho being more of a tourist place.
But for travelers who want to hit up this famous spot, here are a couple of recommendations, in terms of specific shops.
Aji no Karyu
With red banners hanging over its street entrance, Aji no Karyu is situated right at the southern mouth of Ramen Yokocho.
This shop’s claim to fame is an appearance on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, filmed just before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
For a flat 1,000 yen, you can chow down on corn butter ramen at Aji no Karyu.
The soup taste, however, is fairly unremarkable, and there are probably more elite choices you might make, as far as ramen goes.
Down the same alley, Teshikaga Ramen holds a much higher rating for Sapporo restaurants on TripAdvisor (currently #28, versus Aji no Karyu’s #349.)
And indeed, ordering ramen here yields a beautiful presentation of food ...
Simply feed your money into the machine, and choose the picture that most whets your appetite. This writer went for ramen with “all the shoes,” the shop’s very literal, no doubt Google-assisted translation of the Japanese phrase zenbu nose, meaning, “with everything,” or, “all the toppings.”
As they say in Japanese: oishi kata! It was delicious.
Teshikaga also has a shop in the Hokkaido Ramen Dojo at New Chitose Airport.
Susukino is two stops from Sapporo Station, on the Nanboku Subway Line.