While it might not be on the most direct route between the airport to the resorts, Sapporo is definitely worth a visit, it’s the capital of Hokkaido and a great city to explore. You can escape the cold by using the underground network of tunnels/shopping malls that cover almost the entire city-centre one level below street level and try some local foods like Genghis Khan BBQ.
It also has a handful of places to pick up new and used snowboarding gear, sometimes without the resort prices you will find in Niseko.
Here are 6 of the places we found to buy gear during our recent visit.
- Murasaki: This is a big shop in central Sapporo. They have a wide range of new snowboards, boots, bindings, accessories, and a small section of decent quality second-hand boards. They have English speaking staff and it’s even accessible from the underground without ever going outside at street level. It’s worth noting that they didn’t have any ski’s or ski equipment when we visited.
- Sports Depo: This is the second of two shops we found that has a good range of new equipment. Sports Depo is a big warehouse-style sports shop (think Decathlon but brand names) They have a big range of skis, snowboards, and all associated gear. Not all the range overlaps Murasaki and prices are similar. Its slightly north of the centre but easily walkable, or about 2 stops by metro.
- 2nd Street Kose: This shop only really makes the list because its opposite Sports Depo and you may as well visit at the same time. 2nd Street is a chain of second-hand shops throughout Japan, and there are a couple more on this list with a better stock, but they did have limited snow gear and I did manage to find some new Oyuki gloves/masks at a big discount. Possibly factory seconds?
- 2nd Street Outdoor: This probably had the best range of second-hand skis, snowboards and gear that we found in Sapporo. We caught the metro to Nango Juhatchome Station then walked, but there was a bus route that would have taken us directly there.
- 2nd Street Outdoor: Another shop with a decent range of ski and snowboard gear, they had quite a few powder boards in stock when we visited. We caught the metro to Makomanai Station and then walked (about 3km). The walk takes you by a bunch of old infrastructure/hotels all built for the Sapporo Winter Olympics in 1972.
- Book Off Plus: This is another second-hand shop, it had some cheaper snowboards/skis when we were there and had a great selection of clothing and accessories. It’s very close to the 2nd Street Outdoor, so again you can visit both at once.
We have no affiliation with any of these shops, this article is written based on our experience buying our own gear there.