Hokkaido has an exciting history, which is quite distinct from the rest of Japan. Until about 130 years ago, it was barely settled by the Japanese and mostly inhabitat by the native Ainu.... until during the Meiji restauration, the Japanese government decided to encourage "pioneer" settlers to move to the northernmost island and start developing it.
How is this related to Hokkaido University? As you will find out during a guided tour of the campus, quite a lot!
Hokkaido University was founded as agricultural college to help settlers learn and make sense of and prosper in the harsh, cold climate they were facing. Today, the university is more general, but its agricultural and down to earth roots remain. It's incredible to think that just a hundred years ago, salmon actually swam upriver all the way to this campus!
|horse taxidermy, eeeek!|
Every Thursday-Sunday from approximately May to November, you can join a free guided tour of the campus led by amazingly knowledgeble volunteers (in English and Japanese). I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but we learned so much about the local flora and fauna as well as people's living conditions in Meiji period Hokkaido, as well as the history of the university itself, of course.
The campus is so beautiful and green and even includes are small forested area and some fields, just a few minutes walk from Sapporo Station. There's also a cafeteria as well as a nicer cafe and visitor centre, which come highly recommended.
Even if you can't make it to the tour (which is also not running during the winter months), do make sure to check out the campus, especially the model barn section towards the northern end of the campus, which dates back to the founding days of the university.
|The famous Elm no Mori - famous because elms only grow in Hokkaido in Japan|
|crocuses in October!|
|One of the model barns, complete with bull plaque|