The Toyohira River stretches for 45 miles (72.5 kilometers) through Hokkaido province, providing the city of Sapporo with its water before emptying into the larger Ishikari River. Sapporo, the capital of the province, got its name from the river’s original Ainu name, Sapporo Pet.
The region of Jōzankei along the upper Toyohira has long been famous for its onsen, hot springs resorts, which are particularly popular for winter relaxation. The river then flows north and parallels the city, offering some of the best parkland during the warmer summer months. The Sapporo Salmon Museum, located west of downtown, gives a history of the salmon industry in the Toyohira River.
The Toyohira River hosts two popular summer festivals, the Toyohira Fireworks and the Toyohira Rafting Festival. The former comprises an elaborate hour-long pyrotechnic show with some 4,000 fireworks lighting up the night sky. During the latter, competitors race to see who can make it farthest down the river in homemade rafts and amusing costumes.
If you’re looking for something free to do in Sapporo, head to the river banks where you’ll find a series of walking and biking trails to explore.