Fall has fell in Sapporo, Japan

On a lazy Wednesday I awoke to the cold and peered out my window to gaze at the plethora of fall colors and golden leaves.

Fall has reached Sapporo and is slowly transforming the landscape into a sea of fiery reds, oranges, and yellows. Japanese for Fall is “Aki” but the kanji for fall is this: the second radical means fire. Perhaps they called this season the fire season because it seemed like all the leaves were on fire. Never the less, the trees looked beautiful. I had an idea to try and take pictures of this season as it developed; I just had to find a place that really showed a full range of fall’s beautiful colors.

It was this idea and a brochure from the subway station that inspired me to take a trip to Hokkaido University (北海道大学) one of Sapporo’s famous college campuses. What makes it famous is it’s age and splendor. The College is similar to Portland State University or the University of Washington, in that it is more then a college; it is a symbol of it’s respective city. I wanted to visit this place, because I heard somewhere that as Fall rolls in, Hokkaido University transforms into a beautiful array of colors.

Hokkaido University is a walk away from Sapporo Station. I jumped on the JR Train to Sapporo Station and walked to the campus (about 10min). The first place I walked into was Hokkaido’s “Elm Forest.” The Campus was huge from this view. Across from where I was standing was a creek running through the forest (Sakushukotoni Rv.). I followed the creek up to a small waterfall that glistened as split into two streams. From a distance, it looked like an old man with a long mustache. I watched the leaves as they floated along. The park was quiet and pleasant; people from all directions were carrying their cameras to catch a glimpse of falls blazing colors. The temperature was cold, but not biting cold like the other days, but I wore a hooded-sweater and a heavy jean jacket, with my gloves and beanie.

I moseyed out of the elm woods and drifted towards the main road where I met a statue of Doctor William S. Clark who used to be the President of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as, the first Vice President of Hokkaido University in July of 1876, back when Mass. Amherst was named Massachusetts Agricultural College and Hokkaido University was named, (The) Sapporo Agricultural College (1876-1907). According to Wikipedia, he was a professor of chemistry at Amherst, but in 1861 went into the military, where he became a Colonel. Afterwards, he became a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, as well as, a member of the ex officio. He moved to Japan for one year from 1876-1877, where “he taught his students not only academic lectures but also Christian principles.

Although it was a short stay, he influenced many students, leading them to Christian conversions. Some of them later played important roles in the field of Christianity, Education, and International Relations in the beginning of Modern Japan. Alumni such as Uchimura Kanzō (Christian thinker and evangelist) and Nitobe Inazo (Quaker) are still well known nationwide in Japan.” ~Wikipedia

According to the University and Wikipedia: “On the day of his departure, April 16th, 1877, Clark is supposed to have said to the around ten students that came to see him off Boys, be ambitious! and a few variations on that theme. One of those students was apparently so moved that he memorized the phrase and later used it in a lecture, making it the famous phrase it is in Japan today.” ~Wikipedia

Past Dr. Clark’s statue is a small rock formation where I tried my hand at a little photography (Click for Full Ver.). I don’t have the best camera, but the one have does make pretty good pictures at times. The model I use is a FinePix A360. I know there are others here, but don’t get the idea that electronics like digital cameras and ipods are super cheap here… because they’re not. If electronics was cheap I’d probably buy a better camera. The editing software I used was Picasa2 from google.com. It’s totally free to download and really easy to use.

Walking around the campus, I found lots of people on bikes that stopped occasionally to take a picture here or there. I spent
a lot of time just looking at the old and new buildings and walking in to see what they all were about. I think that Hokkaido University is also a graduate college only because I found higher education buildings around. I’d be interested sometime in finding out Hokkaido Universities Majors (not that I’m planning for my Masters).

At the end of the main road was a sign, “Model Barn.” It was one of those things that were weird enough to warrant a side trip to check it out. I’ll be honest that I don’t understand why it is really there, but I can assume that because Hokkaido used to be an all Agricultural College; this model barn(s) was there to perhaps represent what the campus used to be, or what barns in Hokkaido looked liked. This is only speculation though.

Finally, I found a campus map at the model barn site and I noticed an avenue of trees that I’ve seen all around Sapporo. It’s some famous avenue called “Gingko Avenue.” It was a distance from the barn, but now with a map in hand I oriented myself and walked to the avenue while gazing at the cool buildings and stuff. A couple of minutes later I was there. The avenue had that kind of Sleepy Hollow look with Ichabod Crane types walking about. It looked like one of those classic scenes you’d find in some college entrance magazines advertising their impressive demographics and professor profiles.

While standing At Gingko Ave. I took my 1000th picture (left) with my camera. It was a straight shot of Gingko Avenue… I’ll admit to sprucing it up a little bit, but it’s a pretty good picture for being my 1000th.

It was a cool place overall. I wouldn’t mind coming back another time when the campus fades into an even deeper shade of red and yellow.



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