A photo of a huge snow sculpture of a palace.
Photo by Christopher Chan (flickr)

Sapporo, Japan, hosted the 1972 Winter Olympic Games, the first winter games ever held in Asia. Many of us know the Sapporo brand of beer, which comes from the city of Sapporo, but how did the city get its name?

Sapporo is in a Ishikari Plain, a wide flat plain in an otherwise mountainous region. Before the city was established the Ainu people lived there, and when the city was created the name was taken from the Ainu phrase sat poro petsu, which translates roughly to “dry, great river.”

Not only did Sapporo host the winter olympics, but it is also home to the yearly Sapporo Snow Festival, one of Japan’s largest winter events, featuring amazing snow and ice sculptures.


Photo of a decorated manhole cover in Nagano
Photo by jpellgen (flickr)

Host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano, Japan has a name that’s tough to track down. According to both Placenames Of The World and namelab it is derived from the Japanese words naga meaning “long” and no meaning “field.” I haven’t been to Nagano, but a quick Google Image Search reveals that the city itself does seem to be in a flat area.