Many nightlife lovers see Sapporo as a more laid-back and relaxed destination than equivalent-sized cities in Japan. The main nightlife centre is Susukino – the largest north of Tokyo – with many 24-hour bars, restaurants, pubs. It's estimated there are more than 4,000 venues within this loosely-defined city area. Here you’ll find the most popular joint in town, the 3-storey King Xmhu with its themed party nights and spectacular décor, both inside and out.

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    King Xmhu

    King Xmhu is the Big Daddy of nightclubs in Sapporo and is tremendously popular. Outside features a huge carved face – we presume that's the king – while inside is no less impressive on each of its 3 floors. Day-glo makeup and crazy outfits are de rigueur among punters. The huge, intimidating statue of an African face looms over the entire street. Inside is fitted out like a tribal temple with excellent audio-visuals, including lasers shooting over the crowd from the eyes of a huge masked figure. You must be 20 or older to enter King Xmhu.

    Location: 4 Chome-424-10 Minami 7 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0807, Japan

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    2

    Precious Hall

    A celebrated venue with Japan's most celebrated sound system

    Precious Hall is a popular nightclub in Sapporo that's home to one of the best sound systems in Japan. In a country that's known for boasting more than its share of premium-quality spots for hi-fi enthusiasts, holding the unofficial title of “the nation's finest” is no mean feat.

    Playing host to the areas top DJs and beat selectors, Precious Hall occasionally welcomes famed international guest artists, with Gilles Peterson among those to have graced the venue’s decks. Attracting a trendy crowd of vinyl junkies and hipsters, this is an unmissable experience for all music lovers.

    Location: Parade Building B2F, 3 Chome−13-2 Minami 2 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0062, Japan

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 8 pm to 1 am, Friday from 8 pm to 4 am, Saturday from 8 pm to 3 am, Sunday from 9 pm to midnight

    Phone: +81 (0)1-12000090

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    3

    The Long Bar

    Immaculate cocktails and understated chic

    The Long Bar is a chic venue serving premium drinks in an elegant setting in the heart of Sapporo. Located in the Sapporo Ana Holiday Inn, this classy venue boasts a particularly impressive selection of whiskeys among its sizeable alcohol inventory.

    Seasonal fruits are used to create its delicious cocktails, with strawberry champagne a firm favourite. There's a daily special food menu to accompany the drinks. The laidback ambience makes it popular with couples, groups and single drinkers, and the venue regularly plays host to easy listening live music events. There's a ¥500 surcharge per person, so be sure to factor that into your budget.

    Location: Sapporo Ana Holiday Inn, 3 Chome-7 Minami 5 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0805, Japan

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 6 pm to 3 am (closed Sundays)

    Phone: +81 (0)1-12150677

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    4

    Bar Orb

    Compact and cosy cocktail bar in Sapporo's LGBTQ+ hub

    Bar Orb is a cosy drinking hole in Sapporo that's small in size, but big in personality. Located close to Sapporo's LGBTQ+ hub, the venue is especially popular with lesbian visitors thanks to its women-only Saturday night events.

    On other nights, all are welcome in this uniquely friendly bar, and the skilled mixologist-owner is always happy to engage in banter as she fixes up exquisitely crafted cocktails. There's only room for around 20 guests in the bar and it fills up fast, so it's best to arrive early if you wish to find a seat.

    Location: 2 Chome-8-9 Minami 5 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0805, Japan

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 6 pm to 2 am (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +81 (0)9-027427070

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    5

    Famous Door

    Cosy cocktails with an infectious jazz soundtrack

    Famous Door is a cosy bar and restaurant serving premium drinks and hearty local food. The jazz-loving owner designed the venue with a New Orleans theme, and the soundtrack reflects his penchant for authentic jazz and blues music. There are regular live music nights, too, though for these special events an entrance cover is charged on the door.

    The wooden interior gives the bar a distinctly rustic feel, and the friendly staff and patrons are always open to a spot of alcohol-fuelled conversation. The well-stocked bar presents wines, beers, spirits, and well-made cocktails, while the kitchen serves delicious home-cooked meat and seafood dishes.

    Location: 4 Chome-2 Kita 24 Jonishi, Kita Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 001-0024, Japan

    Open: Daily from 5 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +81 (0)1-17362002

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    6

    Booty Disco and Lounge

    Club Booty is one of the most foreigner-friendly clubs in Sapporo. It’s very busy with plenty of people who come to dance to the hip hop, R’n’B, and reggae soundtrack. There's no entrance fee and the place is quite spacious with a second floor where you can sit and chat. The dance floor gets packed around midnight and stays that way until late. The club is well organised and has regular ‘special nights’.

    Location: 4 Chome-424-10 Minami 7 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0807, Japan

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 pm until late

    Phone: +81 (0)11-521-2336

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    7

    Sapporo Beer Garden and Genghis Khan Hall

    For a meaty experience with lots of beer to swill it down with, try the Sapporo Beer Garden. Combining a large German-style Bierkeller with an all-you-can-eat buffet – commonly known as Genghis Khan in Sapporo – you get a fun and boisterous experience here. 

    Handsome on the outside with its red brick facade, the inside is imposing and cavern-like. More of a group experience than a fine-dining event, things tend to get a lively once the beer starts flowing. There are several ‘Genghis Khan’ establishments (so called due to the helmet-like shape of the bowls) in Sapporo, but this is one of the best. It’s an all-you-can-eat affair with beef and pork.

    Location: 9-2-10, Kita 7 Jo, Higashi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 065-0007, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)120-150-550

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    photo by Thomas Au (CC BY 2.0) modified

    8

    Beer Inn Mugishutei

    Beer Inn Mugishutei claims to have the largest selection of beer in Asia. We can't confirm this bold claim, but with a stock of more than 300 brands from over 50 countries, it's hard to argue otherwise. There's also a pretty good food selection featuring old favourites, such as burgers with all the trimmings, Australian meat pies, and fish and chips. There's a cover charge to enter the bar, and beers are from ¥600. 

    Location: Onda Building B1, South 9 West 5, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 064-0809, Japan

    Open: Daily from 7 pm to 3 am

    Phone: +81 (0)11-512-4774

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    9

    Rad Brothers

    This is a busy Western-style (gaijin) bar with a good dance floor and a cash-on-delivery style of paying for drinks – as well as a largely English-speaking clientele. Rad Brothers is the place to meet people from just about every walk of life and the atmosphere is ‘anything goes’. It’s been said that ‘there’s no crazier place to be in Sapporo than Rads on a Friday night past 11pm. Rad Brothers is located southern end of Susukino.

    Location: Mituswa Building 1F, 3 Chome-7-11, Minami 7 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0807, Japan

    Open: Daily from 6 pm to 6 am

    Phone: +81 (0)11-561-3601

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    10

    500 Bar

    A casual bar with a simple concept, 500 Bar was so named because every drink cost ¥500. It's a formula that has proven popular with foreigners and Japanese for years. These days, the price has risen slightly, but it's still one of the cheapest bars in Susukino to get boozy. It’s not only cheap in comparison with other Sapporo bars but it also has a bit of a reputation as a pick-up joint. Located next to Susukino subway station, this is just one of several in Sapporo.

    Location: Katsura Building 31F, South 4 West 2, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-0804, Japan

    Phone: +81 (0)11-521-5731

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    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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