The former prefecture of Hokkaido 北海道庁旧本庁舎

An outpost in the cold


The island of Hokkaido, initially populated for several millennia by the Ainous alone, became a land of Japanese colonization from the 16th century. However, the Japanese did not formally establish their sovereignty there until the beginning of the Meiji era. The former prefecture of Hokkaido was born at this time. This large red brick construction symbolizes the irruption of modernity on the island.



The red prefecture

The former Hokkaidō Prefecture Building opened in Sapporo in 1888, two years after the merger of the three prefectures of Hakodate, Sapporo and Nemuro. It housed the local executive for nearly 80 years. The construction is particularly notable for its American neo-baroque style , which was very fashionable at the time, with the seat of the federal government of Massachusetts as a model. Nicknamed " akarenga " (red bricks) by the local inhabitants , it required nearly 2.5 million bricks made in Hokkaido to be made. With its 33 meters high and 61 meters wide, it was at the time of its inauguration one of the largest buildings in Japan.

Read also : The Meiji era


Former Hokkaido Prefectural Building



Memory of Hokkaido

After the relocation of the prefecture of Hokkaido, the building became the receptacle of the memory of the island. Designated in the late 1960s as an important national cultural property , it has housed the Hokkaido Archives since 1985 and the Sakhalin/Karafuto resource library since 2004. The Northern Territories Museum and an exhibition hall on Hokkaido's international exchanges have also been set up there.


The interior of the building of the former Hokkaido prefecture


Address, timetable & access

  • Address

  • Phone

    +81 (0)11-231-4111 
  • Timetable

    10 minutes on foot from JR Sapporo station (JR and subway lines)
  • Access

    Open from 8:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed from December 29 to January 3

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