Located just a few minutes from the main transport hub of Sapporo, the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden offers visitors several historic buildings and the unique beauty, serenity and harmony of one of the most appealing natural spots in the city.
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 Hokkaido University Botanical Garden contains several beautiful structures including gazebos and bridges.
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 (Syringa reticulata, the Sapporo official flower), containing several Asian and European species of lilacs.
Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidate) is a tree native to Japan, Korea, northeast China and the extreme southeast of Russia. Hokkaido University Botanical Garden
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.
Cat's-tail Orchid (Aerides lawrenceae) is endemic to the Philippines. These orchids are highly prized in horticulture for their showy, intensely fragrant, and colorful flowers. Hokkaido University Botanical Garden
The Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii), also known as "Mother-in-Law's Cushion", is native to central Mexico. Hokkaido University Botanical Garden.
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.
Canadian Rock Garden at Hokkaido University Botanical Garden, Sapporo, Japan.
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.
The Museum of National Treasures is an old building dating from the Meiji Restoration Period. It was built in 1882, before the opening of the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden.
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).