Shugakusou Outdoor Outfitter

Opening Hours10AM - 7PM
+81 11-726-1235
Location /
Getting There
N12, Chuo Ku.
Japan, 〒001-0012 Hokkaido Prefecture, Sapporo, 北区北12条西3丁目2−15

Entering paradise

Just walking through the doors of the Shugakusou (秀岳荘) in N12, Chuo Ku, Sapporo makes you feel you’re headed for adventure. For Hokkaido outdoor enthusiasts this store is the one-stop supplier, its floors replete with everything needed to explore paradise Earth. Be it a day hike or month-long alpine mission, this compact, densely stocked home store (Hokudai-ten, 北大店) is the best spot on the island to sherpa up. It is a gearhead’s nirvana.

Enter into a thicket of hiking poles, headlamps and gas camp stoves. A long glass display counter to the left displays the newest gizmos for tracking outdoor metrics and location. GPS systems and watches segue into more primitive multi-tools, knives and axes. Beyond that tower stacks of literature, from magazines to guidebooks to topographic maps. Cups and pans, Dutch-ovens and thermoses, freeze-dried dinners and back-packing coffee grinders – it’s all there. No less than 100 bags hang along the back wall, from 70 + liter expedition monsters all the way down to svelte trail running belts.

All the major outdoor brands are carried here.

Leave camping and ascend to the second floor for a full selection of mountaineering gear. Boulder crushing alpine boots to toe crushing climbing shoes stock the shelves. Gaze and be reminded that winter here is a protracted, freezing affair. As one who’s been to countless outfitters, the collection of snow boots and ice studs here rivals much bigger stores. For those who really embrace the cold, Shugakusou carries snowshoes and snow shovels, ice axes and crampons. Rock-climbing supplies are available year round, while a corner of the floor is devoted to skiers from November to April. If only they covered snowboarders as well…

The entire store is festooned with the trappings of world exploration. Take a moment to look at the many maps, paintings and framed photographs adorning the walls. Pat the sea-lion head as you climb the stairs to floor three. Next stop – clothing.

Anyone who’s hiked around Hokkaido knows the locals dress well on the mountain. One could easily drop $500 here – indeed many shoppers spend much more. Most major outdoor brands are featured, ensuring that nature lovers will pitch their tents and shred pow in style. If there’s any place to rationalize spending stupid money on clothes, it’s here. Hypothermia? Sunstroke? Can’t risk it. We all know matching proper attire to the occasion is crucial. So if dropping $140 bucks on a pair of lined pants makes you balk, just tell yourself it could mean the difference between life and death.

Boom! Goodbye guilt.

Top floor!

It’s bad, but I’ve got to default to a cake metaphor now, because the fourth floor can only be described as icing. Bouldering crash pads and jidohanbaiki (自動販売機, vending machine) drinks are the only items for sale up here are. The rest is a space of utility and sport. Bathrooms and the office designate the former, while a no nonsense bouldering room indicates the latter. Set by real climbers, the problems bolted onto the walls of this modest gym range from first timer fun to badass rock ninja. Shugakusou’s commitment to providing a quality training room for climbers has had me coming here for years.

And that’s the crux of it – commitment. For 40 years the company has been committed to providing the best outdoor gear the world has to offer. The staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, both in the store and on the trail. Even if you’re not shopping, drop in and get a feel for Hokkaido outdoor culture and history. One of the only real outfitters in a city of upscale shops, it’s the rough in the diamond.
Two other Shugakusou stores exist, one in Shiroishi, Sapporo (白石店) and Asahikawa (旭川店). Link to their homepage for details regarding business hours and merchandise.

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Jonathan is a Hokkaido Guide contributor and editor, living on the island for nearly a decade. He likes to write, travel, and generally thrives on the great outdoors and all things Hokkaido. He drums in a Sapporo band and likes to futz around in the studio and occasionally on stage. A hopeless powder junkie, you can often find him getting his fix on the local hills in the winter.