Sapporo: Sapporo Clock Tower (Tokeidai)
Sapporo Clock Tower 札幌時計台
The Sapporo Clock Tower (tokeidai) near Odori Park and the Sapporo TV Tower in Sapporo is a popular tourist attraction and on a par with the Old Hokkaido Government Building (akarenga) as a historical and cultural symbol of the founding of the modern city in the 1870s.
The Sapporo Clock Tower was originally constructed in 1878 as a military drill hall for Sapporo Agricultural College (present-day Hokkaido University) on the recommendation of William Wheeler, the Vice-president of the college following William Clark.
Before taking up his appointment in Japan, Clark had been President of Massachusetts Agricultural College where military drills had been part of the curriculum and he introduced these activities into the course for students at Sapporo Agricultural College.
The rooms on the first floor were original used as class rooms, laboratories and exhibition space for specimens of natural history and botany. The second floor was used for physical education and as an assembly hall for college ceremonies.
The Sapporo Clock Tower is now a museum dedicated to the history of the building and the lives and work of the early graduates and teachers of Sapporo Agricultural College presented using display panels.
Some of the alumni of Sapporo Agricultural College include Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933), a Christian convert and author of the influential Bushido: The Soul of Japan the Christian evangelist Uchimura Kanzo (1861-1930) and the botanist Kingo Miyabe (1860-1950), who was instrumental in the establishment of the Hokkaido University Botanical Gardens.
The two story building also contains a display of clocks similar to the orginal in the Sapporo Clock Tower, which was commissioned and purchased from the E. Howard Watch & Clock Company of Boston and installed in the building in 1881.
The Tokeidai in Sapporo was modeled on buildings in the mid-west and west of the USA at the time
The Tokeidai in Sapporo in July 2013
The Sapporo Clock Tower History
The tokeidai has had a varied history and was actually dismantled and moved to its present location in 1906 when the building was purchased by Sapporo city. The building served briefly as a post office and then an office and library for the Hokkaido Association of Education.
The building continued as a reading room until the Second World War when it was used by the Japanese military, something hardly foreseen by its original American planners. After World War II the building was used variously by the Hokkaido Teachers' Union as its headquarters until the city library was re-established here in 1949. The building survived moves to relocate it again in the 1960s after protests by citizens of Sapporo until finally it was declared an Important Cultural Property in 1976 and became a permanent museum in 1978.
Tokeidai in the rain, Sapporo, October 2011
Access - Sapporo Clock Tower
North 1, West 2, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, 060-0001
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