Old Hokkaido Government Building, Sapporo 赤れんが庁舎 札幌
The Old Hokkaido Government Building (known affectionately to local Sapporo citizens as akarenga or "Red Bricks") was first completed in 1888 and modeled on the Massachusetts State House in the USA.
The Old Hokkaido Government Building is a symbol of the city of Sapporo and was built by local architects with local materials as the administrative base for the administration of the development and colonization of Hokkaido.
The Old Hokkaido Government Building contains a number of interesting display rooms including an introduction to the ongoing diplomatic problem of the return of the Northern Territories (the four South Kuril Islands known in Japanese as Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and Habomai-shoto) off the northern coast of Hokkaido, seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II and the history of Japanese settlement on Sakhalin.
Sakhalin (known as Karafuto in Japanese at the time) became part of the Japanese empire below the 50th parallel after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 and remained under Japanese control until 1945, when the area was overrun by invading Soviet forces.
When completed the 33m-tall and 61m-wide Old Hokkaido Government Building was one of the tallest and largest buildings in Japan but had to be rebuilt in 1911 after a fire destroyed much of the interior, though the red brick exterior survived major damage, though visitors can see the scorched bricks at the bottom of the building.
Architectural features of the akarenga include the red brickwork done in a French style, the slate tiles and the false chimneys, which are in fact air vents. Inside the building, the double pane wooden windows are designed to keep out Hokkaido's severe winter cold. The triple decorative arches just inside the entrance in the main hall are a popular spot for photographs by Japanese tourists.
The Old Hokkaido Government Building is free to enter and visitors can enjoy the exhibition rooms on two floors and a souvenir shop. The former Governor's office is open and is noted for its elaborate arabesque design engraving.
Throughout the building twenty paintings by local painters from Hokkaido are hung in the corridors and exhibition rooms, which include the Archives of Hokkaido exhibition room, the Karafuto/Sakhalin Related Resource Library, the Northern Territories Museum and the Exhibition Room of Hokkaido's International Exchanges & Local Products.
Access - Old Hokkaido Government Building
North 3, West 6, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, 060-8588
Tel: 011 204 5019
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