The Botanical Garden of Hokkaido University (HUBG) in Sapporo, Japan, was designed by renowned, Harvard educated, Japanese botanist Dr. Kingo Miyabe
, and opened in 1886. That makes HUBG the second oldest botanical garden in Japan after "Koishikawa Botanical Gardens"
of the University of Tokyo which opened in 1684, during the first part of the Edo Period
For more than 125 years, HUBG
has been dedicated to the study of botany, serving as a research facility for the students of the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Hokkaido
, to the conservation of the most important plant species of northern Japan, and to the collection of foreign species of trees, shrubs and other plants of northern regions of the world.
The garden is relatively small. It occupies just over 13 hectares in which one may find no less than 4,000 species of plants distributed into several sections. The different areas include a Garden of the People of the North, with about 200 species that the indigenous people of Northeast Asia used as food and medicines, clothing apparel, dyes, building materials, the manufacturing of agricultural tools or the crafting of fishing and hunting devices.
There are also sections devoted to alpine plants typical of the Hokkaido region with about 600 species of herbaceous plants; a Rose Garden with about 200 plants of 20 varieties of roses; a Garden of Wetlands Plants; and a Garden of Lilacs
, the Sapporo official flower), containing several Asian and European species of lilacs.
The Botanical Garden also has a Conservatory for maintenance and study of plants from tropical and desert regions. A controlled environment section hosts ferns, bromeliads and orchids. Another section of the Greenhouse has been set up for keeping cacti and succulents
In 2001, the University opened a section known as the Canadian Rock Garden. This part of the garden commemorates HUBG’s association with the Botanical Garden of the University of British Columbia (UBC). In this area, about 150 species of plants from Canada and northern regions of the United States are represented.
The garden is located on fertile land of the Toyohira River valley, which flows through the city. Because of its favourable location, the grounds of the garden have several natural springs allowing the preservation of remnants of ancient virgin forests inhabited by numerous species of birds and insects.
Several historical buildings of significant cultural value enrich the garden. These include the Northern People’s Museum, the building to the memory of Dr. Kingo Miyabe, and a natural history Museum housed in an old colonial style building dating from the Meiji Period
. In the latter, there are some objects considered National Treasures among which there are valuable archaeological materials and stuffed animals including Taro, one of the two dogs of the Sakhalin Husky breed
that survived the tragedy of the sled-dogs that accompanied the first Japanese expedition to the Antarctic. More details on this subject can be found in this article
on Digital Journal.
With its superb location in the downtown area of Sapporo, a few blocks from beautiful Odori Park and Sapporo’s main railway station and subway lines, the Botanical Garden of Hokkaido University has become an interesting tourist attraction.
Undoubtedly, the best time to visit the University of Hokkaido Botanical Garden is between May and September. However, a visit in November allows visitors to appreciate the fall colors and the unique beauty, quietude and harmony of one of the most attractive natural sites of the city of Sapporo.
HUBG is located at North 3, West 8, Chuo-ku, about three blocks north of Odori Park, and about 5 blocks west of Sapporo Station, Namboku Subway Line. Open: 09:00 to 16:00 hrs. Entry fee is ¥ 400 (~US$5).