Searching for Stars in SapporoTravel History
Visitors to Sapporo may spot the many stars appearing on the Hokkaidō city’s tourist sites. These date back to the development of the island by the Kaitakushi (Hokkaidō Development Commission), established in 1869. At first, its ships flew a flag with a red star with five points, representing the North Star, against a blue background. The star was later used as a symbol on buildings and products.
Former Hokkaidō Government Office Building (Red Brick Office)
The Kaitakushi was dissolved in 1882. Later, the Red Brick Office was built in 1888, serving as the main office for the Hokkaidō prefectural government. One of the prefecture’s most popular tourist attractions, it is American neobaroque in style and construction of the exterior walls required approximately 2.5 million red bricks, manufactured in nearby villages, such as Shiroishi and Toyohira, later absorbed into the city of Sapporo. The building served as the main government office until February 1968. The following year, it was designated as a national important cultural property.
A red star can be seen above the center dormer window of the building.
The Red Brick Office began undergoing renovation work from 2019 as a measure to prevent deterioration and make it more earthquake resistant. The work is scheduled to be completed in 2025. The building is not currently visible due to scaffolding, so a temporary sheet has been hung with a photo of the exterior should look like, so visitors can still enjoy the scenery even during construction. Further, an observation deck opened on May 7, adjacent to the building, where visitors can get a closer look at the roof of the octagonal tower, which has temporarily been removed from the top of the building.
The Clock Tower
This city landmark was built in October 1878 as a drill hall for the Sapporo Agricultural College, which later became Hokkaidō University. There are 17 red stars in total to be found on the clock tower.
Sapporo Beer Museum
The gold star on Sapporo Beer products actually derives from the five-pointed, red star used by the Kaitakushi. The company has its origins in a brewery established by the development office in September 1876. There are red stars on the Sapporo Beer Museum building too.
This Western-style hotel, which was directly managed by the Kaitakushi was built in November 1880 near what is now Ōdori Park 1-chome. It was relocated to Nakajima Park in 1958, where for a long time it was used as a wedding hall.
This building was constructed in 1880 as a rest station for Emperor Meiji when he visited Hokkaidō.
Botanic Garden, Hokkaidō University
This historical botanical garden was established in 1886. Within the garden is a museum housing valuable materials that have been collected for academic purposes since the Meiji era (1868–1912). Watch out for the stars at the entrance of the building or you may miss them!
Big Clock of Stars, JR Tower, Sapporo Station
The stars that have shone in Sapporo for more than 150 years still remain throughout the city today, as a welcome presence for both citizens and tourists.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)