Sapporo Seikatei

Seikatei was built in 1880 as a reception hall for guests of the Hokkaido Development Commission. It was the first building of its kind built in Sapporo. It’s located just west of Sapporo Station, south of the Hokkaido University campus, and with its large park grounds makes a nice visit when in the neighborhood of the station.

The Hokkaido Development Commission built Seikatei in what was then called Kairakuen Park, Sapporo’s first urban park. The style is basically American, but the interior is a mixture of Japanese and Western styles. This combination of these styles distinguishes buildings constructed towards the end of Hokkaido’s pioneering era. The grounds and garden were designed by German-American engineer Louis Bermer. It has the distinction of having hosted the Meiji Emperor when he visited during a trip to Sapporo in 1881. The grounds feature several hundred different kinds of plants, and the area was used at one point as a botanical garden and agricultural research center. There were also a greenhouses and a museum on site, as well as a fish hatchery for salmon and trout located along the river which used to run through the park. Sadly this river was diverted and covered over in the process of urban development, but recently some sections of it have been restored farther downstream where it runs through the Hokkaido University Campus. In 1933 the guest house and its garden was donated to Sapporo City and the museum and other facilities were moved elsewhere. Today Seikatei and its grounds are a quiet, peaceful urban park that is relatively unknown and rarely visited. There is a superintendent on site and you can take a look inside. Admission is free, however information is available in Japanese only.

The best way to get to Seikatei is to walk the few blocks there from Sapporo Station. It’s a great place for a quick getaway from the urban rush in summer. It can be a bit cold in winter though, so dress warm. Seikatei’s proximity to the Hokkaido University Botanical Gardens, Old Hokkaido Prefecture Building (Akarenga), and the Hokkaido University Campus makes for a good historical walking tour.

This post is also available in: Japanese