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3-Day Model Trip Day2 / Hakodate - Sapporo


3-Day Model Trip Day2 / Hokkaido / Hakodate - Sapporo

In the morning of my second day, I took a Limited Express Super Hokuto of a JR Line from Hakodate and headed for Sapporo. In 2 hours 59 minutes, the train arrived at Sapporo Station. Sapporo is the seat of the Hokkaido prefectural office with the population of 1.8 million. It is one of the five largest cities of Japan. Sapporo is characterized by the neat and orderly streets and blocks because it was developed with a solid urban development plan from the beginning in 1869, and it is very convenient for tourists.

So, I opened my map and started to walk toward the symbol of Sapporo, Tokeidai Kinenkan, a memorial hall for a clock tower. I walked straight to south for 15 minutes from the south exit of Sapporo Station and found the white 5-story clock tower. It was built at the martial art hall for the former Sapporo Agricultural School, the predecessor of the present Hokkaido University. It is the oldest clock tower in Japan, and an extremely rare specimen with all original gears and other main parts. The City Council decided to permanently preserve it in 1966. It continues to stand tall and chime the hours that have not changed since one century ago although it is now surrounded with modern high-rise buildings. I understand all this was possible thanks to the endeavors of a father and son of a certain clock shop who devoted themselves in the maintenance of this clock. The inside is the Sapporo History Museum that exhibits the historical materials of Sapporo in the pioneer days and the history of the Agricultural School.

As I crossed the Sapporo Ekimae-dori street from the Clock Tower and walked to the north, I found a majestic red brick building. This is a former Hokkaido Prefectural Office building in the neo-baroque style built in 1888 modeled after the state capitol of Massachusetts, USA. When I look at this solemn building close at hand, I could understand how strong the ideals and passions of the people in the development days were. The Hokkaido Prefectural Library inside this building preserves about 190,000 official and unofficial documents for the period before the development until establishment of the Hokkaido Prefectural Office and they are offered for public perusal.

I walked 2 blocks to the south from the Former Hokkaido Prefectural Office and arrived at the Odori-koen Park, an oasis in a metropolis. This park runs through the center of the city for 1.5 km from east to west. It is a green promenade fringed with lilacs and elms. There are many monuments in the park, such as the "Benson's bubbler", a gift from Portland, USA, and a slippery slide created by Isamu Noguchi. Lilacs and lilies-of-the-valley bloom in triumph in spring, cool fountains and shops for baked corns, a specialty of Hokkaido add charm in summer, and 380,000 light bulbs shine up the white snow creating a fantastic white illumination in winter. You can enjoy the charms of all seasons here. It is the main site for the "Sapporo Snow Festival" held in early February when it is filled with over 300 pieces of art with snow and ice.

I took a subway and a bus to the Okurayama Ski-Jumping Ground, which was remodeled and reopened in April 2000. This is where the 90 m ski-jumping event was held in the Winter Olympics held in 1972. It underwent a complete remodeling and was reborn as the latest large-hill ski-jumping ground. I took a two-seater lift over the braking track with a long slope and got to the observation lounge at the top of the jumping platform in 5 minutes. I had a bird's eye view of the entire Sapporo city and the Ishikari Plain. It was simply wonderful. I realized the ski-jumpers jump from such a frightful height, and was struck with awe for the gallant athletes.

I returned to the city center, and took a subway and a bus to head for the Hitsuji-ga-oka view spot in the suburb of Sapporo. This view spot is located in a gentle hill. The Hokkaido Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry opened it to public in 1959 to attract tourists. Sheep grazed in the vast pasture beyond the fence. It was a peaceful pastoral sight. There stands a statue of Dr. William S. Clark, an American professor who is known for the famous words he cast to his students at his departure, "Boys, be ambitious," pointing his finger toward the pasture. Dr. Clark contributed to the foundation of the Hokkaido University that has educated many youths who became leaders later. He came to Japan in 1876, taught classes at the former Sapporo Agriculture School, a predecessor to the present Hokkaido University. He gave his students great dreams and ideals. Far beyond the pasture stretches the city of Sapporo, which his students had developed.

By the time I got back to the central Sapporo again, the streets had already been lighted. The city was still lively even in the evening. You can enjoy Mongolian mutton barbecue, a specialty of Hokkaido and seafood, as well as European, Chinese, Asian and African cuisines, but the most popular food for the local Sapporoites must be ramen noodles. On the Ramen Lane at a corner of the famous downtown Susukino, as many as 16 ramen shops stand side by side, and it is an authentic sightseeing spot now. The ramen with scallops, crabs, corn, butter and other specialties of Hokkaido had the taste we can enjoy only in the homeland. The piping hot ramen must be the best delicacy in this cold northern land.

After this nice and warm treat, I took a tram from Susukino and headed for Mt. Moiwa-yama, famous for a nice night view. About 450 kinds of trees and plants grow densely in the virgin forest around 531-meter tall Mt. Moiwa-yama. It was designated as the first precious natural monuments in Hokkaido in 1921. I understand you can overlook the Ishikari Bay in the north, Mt. Eniwa-dake and the Lake Shikotsu-ko in the far south from the view spot on fine days. I got off the tram at the ropeway station, and walked about 10 minutes to the station at the foot of the mountain. I enjoyed an aerial walk for 5 minutes, transferred at the Moiwa-yama Nakacho midway station to a lift, and arrived at the mountaintop observation platform. What I saw through the glassed-in observation deck was the night view of a metropolis Sapporo that glistens brilliantly like a capsized jewelry box. No matter how expensive jewelry might be, it cannot possibly beat this brilliance. I felt a little envious of the animals and plants, the residents of Mt. Moiwa-yama.