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Sapporo / Hokkaido

Intoruce "Sapporo (札幌市, Sapporo-shi)".
Sapporo is the fifth-largest city in Japan by population.
It is the capital of Hokkaidō Prefecture, located in Ishikari Subprefecture, and an ordinance-designated city of Japan.
Sapporo is best known outside Japan for hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics, the first ever held in Asia, and for the annual Yuki Matsuri in the city, internationally referred to as the Sapporo Snow Festival, which draws more than 2 million tourists from around the world. The city is also home to Sapporo Brewery.


see Large Map

Prior to its establishment, the area occupied by Sapporo (known as the Ishikari Plain) was home to a number of indigenous Ainu settlements. In 1866 at the end of the Edo Period construction began on a canal through the area, encouraging a number of early settlers to establish Sapporo village. The settlement's name was taken from the Ainu language sat poro petsu, and can be translated as "dry, great river".


In 1868, the officially recognised year celebrated as the 'birth' of Sapporo, the new Meiji government concluded that the existing administrative center of Hokkaidō, which at the time was the port of Hakodate, was in an unsuitable location for defense and further development of the island. As a result it was determined that a new capital on the Ishikari Plain should be established. The plain itself provided an unusually large expanse of flat, well drained land which is relatively uncommon in the otherwise mountainous geography of Hokkaidō.


Sapporo Dome

During 1870-1871, Kuroda Kiyotaka, vice-chairman of the Hokkaidō Development Commission (Kaitaku-shi) approached the American government for assistance in developing the land. As a result, Horace Capron, Secretary of Agriculture under President Ulysses S. Grant became a oyatoi gaikokujin and was appointed as a special advisor to the commission. Construction began around a park, Odori Koen, which still remains as a green ribbon of recreational land bisecting the central area of the city. The city closely followed the American-style grid plan with streets at right-angles to form city blocks.


The continuing expansion of the Japanese into Hokkaidō continued, mainly due to migration from the main island of Honshū immediately to the south, and the prosperity of Hokkaidō and particularly its capital grew to the point that the Development Commission was deemed unnecessary and was abolished in 1882.


Edwin Dun (O-yatoi gaikokujin) came to Sapporo to establish sheep and cattle ranches in 1876. He also demonstrated pig raising and the making of butter, cheese, ham and sausage. He married a Japanese woman. He once went back to the States in 1883 but returned to Japan as a secretary of government.


William S. Clark (O-yatoi gaikokujin) who was the president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts Amherst) came to be the founding vice-president of Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University) for only eight months from 1876 to 1877. He taught academic subjects in science and lectured on the Bible as an "ethics" course, introducing Christian principles to the first entering class of the College.


In 1880, the entire area of Sapporo was renamed as "Sapporo-ku" (Sapporo Ward), and a railroad between Sapporo and Temiya, Otaru was laid. The Hōheikan, a hotel and reception facility for the very important person, was erected adjacent to the Odori Park, which was moved and is now located in Nakajima Park. Two years later, with the abolition of the Kaitaku-shi, Hokkaidō was divided into three prefectures: Hakodate, Sapporo, and Nemuro. The name of the urban district in Sapporo remained Sapporo-ku, while the rest of the area in Sapporo-ku was changed to Sapporo-gun. The office building of Sapporo-ku was also located in the urban district.


Sapporo Ramen / Image

Sapporo, Hakodate, and Nemuro Prefectures were abolished in 1886, and Hokkaidō government office building, an American-neo-baroque-style structure with red bricks, constructed in 1888. The last squad of the Tonden-hei, the soldier pioneering Hokkaidō, settled in the place where the area of Tonden in Kita-ku, Sapporo is currently located.


Odori Park

Sapporo-ku has administered surrounding Sapporo-gun until 1899, when the new district system was announced. After that year, Sapporo-ku was away from the control of Sapporo-gun. The "ku" (district) enforced from 1899 was an autonomy which was a little bigger than towns, and smaller than cities. In Hokkaidō at that time, Hakodate-ku and Otaru-ku also existed.

By T.S. on Feb 8, 2010
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