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How many Foreigners Live in Sapporo?

As part of our research on Sapporo real estate, we present some data on the estimated numbers of foreigners living in Sapporo, as well as the percentage of foreign born population in Sapporo from each country.

Foreign Residents in Sapporo

Sapporo is a big city (the fifth largest city in Japan), but unlike Tokyo, it does not have a particularly large population of foreign residents. Based on recent data (see below), approximately 16,000 foreigners live in Sapporo city, which is less than one percent of the total residents of Sapporo. And while not as famous internationally as some other Japanese cities, Sapporo is home to a growing population of foreign-born residents and international expats in Hokkaido.

Population of Foreigners in Sapporo, by Year

There is relatively reliable and regular reporting on foreign-born people living in Sapporo. And if you’re interested in international populations trends, the data is interesting; in the data below, note the recent increases in foreigners residing in Sapporo.

Year Foreigners Living in Sapporo
2023 15,960
2022 13,095
2021 14,010
2020 14,656
2019 13,413
2018 12,183
2017 11,111
2016 10,190
2015 9,467
2014 9,156
2013 9,109
Source: City of Sapporo, Japan

This table presents data for foreign and international Sapporo residents only. For more complete data about the total population of Sapporo, see our report on the Sapporo population by year.

60% More Foreigners in Sapporo Since 2013

Sapporo is a Japanese city, and over 99% of the population in Sapporo is comprised of Japanese nationals. And while the total number of foreign-born residents of Sapporo is relatively small, the percentage is increasing.

As the overall population of Sapporo has declined slightly since 2021, the percentage of foreigners living in Sapporo has been steadily increasing, and hit an all-time high of 15,960 residents in recent years.

According to our own research here at Find Hokkaido Agents, ten years ago the population of non-Japanese in Sapporo was approximately 0.5% of the total population, but recent data shows that number has grown such that now approximately 0.8% of Sapporo residents are foreigners – that is an increase of approximately 60% since 2013. While the overall population of Sapporo has declined, foreign arrivals are an increasing part of the story of Sapporo.

For more detailed data, see our separate report on the foreigners in Sapporo by country.

Sapporo’s Foreign-Born Population by Country

While Niseko has a much larger percentage of English-speaking residents, most of the foreigners living in Sapporo are from Asian countries. The primary country of origin for foreigners living in Sapporo is China (31% of the foreign population), followed by Korea (15%) and Vietnam (12%).

The first English-speaking country on the list of foreigners living in Sapporo is the United States (5% of the foreign population). Great Britain and Australia are also both on the list (at 1% each).

The comparison to Niseko is interesting; As the Niseko story has largely been about Australians and westerners coming for the snow and tourism, the Sapporo story has a much bigger focus on the Chinese.

In a separate report we provide more detailed statistics for Sapporo foreign population by country of origin.

Foreigners Buying Real Estate in Sapporo

Sapporo is a stable, healthy Japanese city, with a range of active industries, populated primary by the Japanese. And everything that makes Sapporo a great place to live for the Japanese (including transplants moving to Sapporo from Tokyo and other cities on the main island of Japan), also makes Sapporo a viable city for foreigners and expats.

There is an active community of foreigners and international people interested real estate in Sapporo. As real estate consultants, we have helped clients from all over the world to rent an apartment in Sapporo, and to buy real estate in Sapporo.

For help finding local real estate agents in Sapporo, please contact us. We are happy to help.

We work for you, not the real estate companies.

We provide person-to-person introductions to prescreened agents that help you sell, buy, lease, or rent property in Hokkaido. We search our custom database to connect you to real estate professionals that speak your language, address your needs and are available now to help you find what you want.

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For More Information:

— See our other post for more complete information on The Population of Sapporo by Year
— Recent data on the Population of Niseko and Foreign Populations Living in Niseko
Otaru Population, by Year
— Our complete guide for Buying a House in Sapporo
Renting an Apartment in Sapporo
Buying Property in Hokkaido as a Foreigner
— Find Lawyers in Hokkaido
— Our Taxes in Japan page

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