Written by Sandrine
Sapporo 500m - A Public Gallery To Experience Art On The Go
The Odori and Bus Center Mae stations in Sapporo are connected by 500m, an art gallery and exhibition walkway which aims to give passersby a one-minute art experience while they walk from one place to another.
Somewhat an art and sightseeing secret, many people do not know that in the underground walkway between Odori and Bus Center Mae stations in central Sapporo city, there is permanent gallery and exhibition hall free for the public called Sapporo 500m.
Since 2006 it has been showcasing national and international art pieces for the people walking to and from different directions. Leading from one station to another, the 500 m gallery displays various forms of art expressions by both national and international artists. The underground walkway exhibition window is 500 m long and is known to be Japan’s longest art walkway.
500m - A 500-Meter-Long Art Walkway
500m is an alternative art gallery run by Sapporo City, displaying a variety of curated exhibitions of art by local and international artists, as well as art or photography telling the city’s rich history. In addition to being an art space used by the popular yearly Sapporo International Art Festival and the Sapporo Art Stage which takes place every November, this gallery aims to provide free art experiences as a small break from the busy life of the city.
From start to end, it takes only a few minutes to experience the charm of this walkway on the go. Alternatively, you can sit longer and admire the pieces. There are benches in front of the display windows, and detailed information on every piece is available.
The History of 500m
The walkway gallery was originally just a temporary art space used since 2006 by Sapporo Art Stage , a festival held for a month in November when local Sapporo and Hokkaido artists showcase their works in the city. These days, this art month takes place in the Sapporo Ekimaedori (the road in front of Sapporo Station), with the 500 m walkway gallery somewhat as an integrated part. Since 2012 the 500 m gallery walkway has become an independent permanent exhibition space.
The art exhibitions are being put together and organized by a committee of art curators in Sapporo. They usually last for one to two months and include all forms of art expression. Ranging from video and sound installations to more traditional paintings, the art display windows are interactive and noticeable even for the busy persons passing by. The display pieces are curated in themes either showcasing many artists at once or just highlighting one artist’s expression.
International Art Displays
From local children's art to the works of established artists from Hokkaido, there are many types of art displayed in this special gallery. No matter if the artists are local or international, some sort of connection to the city of Sapporo can always be found in the curated exhibitions. The current exhibition, for example, is called “Sister City Brother Project” and has an international theme displaying the relationship between Sapporo and its sister city of Portland, US.
In addition to thematic exhibitions, the gallery also has its yearly “Sapporo 500m Gallery Award”. The event will be held in 2017 for the fifth time. This specific exhibition is a nationwide competition displaying the works of one or two artists.
If you are interested in art and have visited Sapporo’s great art museums, the 500m Walkway Gallery is an interesting addition displaying contemporary art. It is free and can be enjoyed relatively fast. Although the exhibition space is long, sometimes only a few pieces are on display.
How to Get to 500m
From inside Odori Station, walk to exit 27, and take the stairs leading to Bus Center Mae station. The underground gallery is right below this area. The walkway from Odori Station to Bus Center Mae station is a lovely walk to take on your way to Sapporo Factory - the old beer Brewery that was turned into one of the city’s most popular shopping malls, or on your way to the bus terminal.
500m is a place where you can enjoy the artistic spirit of Sapporo. When visiting the city, do stop by!