Hokkaido Heritage - "Pioneer Era Western-style Buildings in Sapporo"
From 1869 until 1882 there were many buildings used by the Meiji government to help settlers in Hokkaido plan for the future. Several of these buildings still stand in Sapporo and are recognized as Cultural Heritage sites that show not only the beginnings of Hokkaido as we know it today, but also traces of the Westernization movement that occurred during that time period.
For over a century the well known symbol of Sapporo, the Clock Tower, has been standing watch over the city. This building was originally a drill hall of the former Sapporo Agricultural College, which is now known as Hokkaido University. The clock has been maintained since the beginning of the Showa era and the sound of the bell tower can still be heard each hour of the day.
For visitors that venture inside for a tour, they will find the first floor being used as an exhibition about the history of the clock tower and the Hokkaido reclamation period. The second floor has recently been used as a performance space for local music and is well known to the public.
Located about 10 minutes northwest of Sapporo Station is the "Seikatei" building. This was the first building of its kind to be constructed in Sapporo and was often used to house special guests to the city. This building shows a graceful blending of Japanese and Western styles of construction.
Additionally there were also state-run hotels built which featured lavish decorations. The "Toyohira Building" is an example of this and features beautiful chandeliers in each room. Since April of 2012 the building has been closed for renovations which will improve earthquake resistance. The building is set to reopen around 2016.
If you're planning to visit Sapporo I would suggest coming during the winter when all the buildings are covered in snow, it gives everything a romantic charm. If you do visit be sure to dress warmly!
Homepage: http://www.hokkaidoisan.org/ (Japanese)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hokkaidoisan (Japanese)
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - T・H)
(Photographs provided by NPO法人北海道遺産協議会)