Established in 1876 as Sapporo Agricultural College, Hokkaido University (北海道大学: simply called Hokudai in Japanese) lie in spacious leafy grounds near JR Sapporo Station north gate.

The grounds are open to all, and you will find a wide variety of historic buildings, as well as scenic places. Allow an hour or two to wander the campus.

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Historic Heart

Start at the Elm-no-mori Information Center facing the Main Gate (1936) on Tarukawa-dori and the Admission Bureau (1937). A few minutes’ walk along the picturesque Central Lawn passing through the restored gentle river of Sakushukotoni-gawa, you will find the bronze bust of Dr William Smith Clark, who was the first president of Sapporo Agriculture College. ‘Boys, be ambitious!’ is a famous his motto all over Japan.

Around the bust of Clark, there are several historic buildings in the trees. Among the best are the Western-style Furukawa Memorial Hall (1909) and the Faculty of Agriculture (1935) with a clock tower.

Between these two, the Entomology and Sericulture Hall (1901) making it the oldest existing school building on campus. These buildings themselves are not open to the public, but there are good English information boards.

Hokkaido University Museum

(北海道大学博物館) Housed in an old graduate school of science built in 1929, this museum has a wide range collection of specimens and materials since the Agricultural College, including a number of minerals, fossils, archaeological finds and rare moulages (wax molds that simulate skin diseases). Another well-stocked collection traces the history, faculties and research of the university. There are also lovely artefacts of indigenous people from Hokkaido to Sakha Republic (in Russia). The souvenir shop has some science kits and Ainu traditional cloths.

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Scenic Landscapes

Gingko Avenue

(イチョウ並木) The iconic symbol of the university, there are 70 gingko trees lie along Kita-jusanjo-dori. Ginko were planted in 1939 and the trees turn brilliant yellow from late October to early November.

Poplar Avenue

(ポプラ並木) One of the most scenic places in the university, populars were first planted in 1903 as a research for windbreak forest and imported from the United States. In 2004, a typhoon destroyed half of populars, but trees were restored in a few years.

Sapporo Agricultural Collage Model Dairy Farm

(札幌農学校第2農場) Based on Clark’s belief, the American-style Second Farm was built in 1877 and relocated on the north side of the campus in 1910. The farm contains a wooden model barn, milking shed, bull-house, tool shed and stone silo. It is about 1km north of the University Museum. Otherwise, it is an easy 7-minute walk west of Kita-juhatchijo subway station.

What to Eat

This university has several budget-friendly shokudo (食堂: student cafeterias) and you can eat well for under ¥500. All shokudo are open to all, except lunch time (11.30am-1pm) on weekdays. English menu is available (ask for staff). There are also tourist-friendly restaurants and cafes on campus.

The convenience store Seicomart (24hrs) near the university museum has indoor and open-air picnic tables.

Getting There

  • The university’s Main Gate (正門) is a 7-minute walk north of JR Sapporo Station along Tarukawa-dori
  • Kita-junijo Station on the Nanboku subway line is about 300m southeast of the Gingko Avenue
  • The Second Farm is about 600m west of Kita-juhachijo Station, one stop north of Kita-junijo