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Release | Shizuko Kosuna

Hokkaido University Botanic Garden, you can encounter original landscape


“Oasis” in the heart of Sapporo must be Hokkaido University Botanic Garden.
You can observe various plants in different attractions, such as Alpine Plants Rock Garden, botanical specimen in Northern Peoples Museum, and natural woodlands with a huge elm tree. There are also Museum designated as Important Cultural Property, and the garden shows the original landscape of Sapporo before the urban development.  Hokkaido University Botanic Garden is a precious place which connects past and present. 


The first modern Botanical Garden in Japan

Hokkaido University Botanic Garden is located at 10 minutes by foot from Sapporo Station. In the approximately 350 meters square with 13.3 hectares area, around 4,000 species of plants are nurtured. 

植物園正門▲The main gate of Botanic Garden. The gatekeeper’s office at the back is an Important Cultural Property. 

Professor Mr. Clark, who was the vice-principal of Sapporo Agricultural College, is known for his strong advice to Kaitakushi, to build a botanical garden for the education in botany. It is considered that because Mr. Clark was familiar about botany, he told people around him how important to have a place to observe and nurture plants in the neighborhood. The Botanic Garden opened in 1886. 

植物園バラ園▲The rose garden has 20 kinds of rose including Japanese rose (hamanasu). (The photo is provided by Hokkaido University Botanic Garden)

Hokkaido University Botanic Garden is Japan’s first “modern botanical garden” and is the second botanical garden in Japan. 
“Modern botanical garden” means that it is rather the environment for “study” based on science, not a group of gardens for admiration. In the garden, they do not only nurturing plants but also preserving species including endangered species. 

In that valuable field, there are multiple attractions which stimulate our curiosity and five senses. 
The place is recommended to not only people who love flowers and nature but also people who are interested in history. 


The garden is a treasure house of northern plants

Many kinds of plants, mostly ones which grow naturally in Hokkaido, are nurtured and preserved in the garden. Such as a big elm tree, Alpine Plants Rock Garden, and the botanical specimen in Northern Peoples Museum.

ハルニレ大木▲The huge elm tree in the garden. It is considered to be alive more than 100 years. There is an elm forest in the garden, too. (The photo is provided by Hokkaido University Botanic Garden)

高山植物園▲“Alpine Plants Rock Garden” reproduces the environment at the 8th station of Mt. Tomuraushi in Taisetsusan Mountain range by putting mists by sprinklers. There are approximately 600 species in this garden.

ケナシヒマラヤユキノシタの花▲We can observe alpine plants flowers from mid-May to autumn. The picture indicates Kenashi Himaraya Yukinoshita (Bergenia stracheyi) flower. 

ライラック並木▲“Lilac Avenue” next to “North Lawn”. There are about 20 species from Europe and Asia here. (The photo is provided by Hokkaido University Botanic Garden)

北方民族植物標本園▲In “Northern Peoples Museum”, approximately 200 kinds of plants which were used for medicines, food, clothing, and shelter by northern peoples such as Ainu. The sign indicates usage of each plant. 


Landscape and natural forest shows Sapporo before the urban development

In “Natural Woodland”, you can imagine how Sapporo looked like when the city was covered with natural forest. Trees such as elm, painted maple, and Manchurian walnut grow here without people’s care. They are preserved like that to observe and research natural changes. There is also a white net to research what kind of seeds fly to the forest. 

自然林▲Trees in “Natural Woodland” became all green in early May. It was an elm forest originally, but many trees grow in here now. The big tree on the right is elm. 

Did you know that there are also ruins of pit-house from approximately 1,000 years ago?
The Botanic Garden is on the alluvial fan of Toyohira River, which has underground water, called Memu in Ainu language, blow out at multiple places. People become to stay here, where there was abundant water. There are three places in the garden to see the ruins. 

竪穴式住居跡▲The area which is hollowed a little is the ruin of pit-house. We have discovered clayware from the era around here. 

Hokkaido University Botanic Garden still has lots of ponds and wetland. They use Memu (underground water) to river in the garden and make a pond. 

湿生園の散策路▲“Wetland Plants Garden” with a promenade. Visitors can enjoy skunk cabbage and iris flowers. 


The first museum in Hokkaido is in Hokkaido University Botanic Garden

The biggest sight in Hokkaido University Botanic Garden is the Museum which is also an Important Cultural Property. It is known as the oldest museum in Hokkaido. By the way, why is there a museum in a botanical garden? 

博物館外観▲The building was built as Kaitakushi Museum in 1882. There is Goryosei mark, (the symbol of Kaitakushi) above the main entrance. 

The museum was originally built near Kairakuen on the north side of Sapporo Station in 1882. Because the first property was too small, they moved the museum to the place now, where was a wild forest and used as a sheep ranch at that time.
The Botanic Garden opened in 1886, 4 years later. It was more like the area around the Museum became the botanical garden. 

It is a small museum, but there are stuffed animals in Meiji Period and precious documents about Antarctic expedition team which professors of Hokkaido University educated and trained. There is also a stuffed animal of Taro, which is famous from the film Nankyoku Monogatari (South Pole Story). 

The stuffed Ezo brown bear stands right in front of the entrance is the bear which attacked a ranch in Sapporo City in 1890 then shot and killed by a Tondenhei (military settler colonists to Hokkaido). The male bear looks more than two meters.  

エゾヒグマのはく製▲The stuffed Ezo brown bear in Meiji Period. The glass cases for exhibitions are one of Important Cultural Properties, too. 

The stuffed Hokkaido wolf, now extinct. There used to be over thousands of them, but it is said people stopped seeing them from around 1887. 

絶滅したエゾオオカミ▲The reason of extinct is said to be the decrease of Ezo deer, extermination, and infectious diseases. 

Now it’s extinct and stuffed animal is valuable but they were one of the harmful animals to people back then. 
People did not value wolves they exterminated. 
Because museum preserved wolves as stuffed animals, we, people who live currently, can have a chance to learn the relationship between wolves and people in Meiji Period. It is a big role of Museum. 

Another interesting exhibition is those related to an English zoologist Blakiston. 
Mr. Blakiston defined “Blakiston Line”, which is a biological boundary line to divide Hokkaido and Honshu at Tsugaru Strait.
In the Museum, they exhibit Honshu and Hokkaido stuffed animals which Mr. Blakiston collected. The part of them is displayed on the two sides of a hallway, which depicts Tsugaru Strait. 

ブラキストンのシマフクロウ▲Shimafukurou owl was discovered by Mr. Blakiston as a new kind, so English name “Blakiston’s Fish-owl” has his name. 


Miyabe Kingo Memorial Building and the oldest lilac in Sapporo

There is the oldest lilac tree in Sapporo in front of Miyabe Kingo Memorial Building, who was the first manager of the botanical garden. The lilac is said that it was brought to Sapporo by Sarah Clara Smith, who was the founder of Hokusei School, from the United States around 1890. 

札幌最古のライラック▲The white building near the main gate is Miyabe Kingo Memorial Building. The best time to see lilac flowers is late May to mid-June. (The photo is provided by Hokkaido University Botanic Garden)

宮部金吾▲Miyabe Kingo involved from the planning of the botanical garden. He was the second generation student of Sapporo Agricultural College and the leading person in northern plants. 

Hokkaido University Botanic Garden has many great sights. Other than what I have introduced, there are Greenhouse, other Important Cultural Properties buildings, and Northern Peoples Museum which exhibits Ainu culture. 
This is a fun place just to visit Museum, or merely taking a walk and touch the big elm tree. 
When you visit the garden, enjoy the beauty of flowers and green, but imagine about the connection from the past to present by observing the original landscape of Sapporo. You will surely enjoy Hokkaido University Botanic Garden from a different point of view. 
  • Hokkaido University Botanic Garden, you can encounter original landscape