Visiting Sapporo Clock Tower

The iconic landmark of Sapporo, originating in the American Midwest.

The renowned Clock Tower (or “Tokeidai”), Sapporo’s oldest standing structure, has been counting the hours since 1881. The clock bells chime once every hour, every day, without fail, sounding a ring throughout Japan’s fifth largest city.


This famous clock gable, which resembles a country barn, was added to the local landmark’s original building in 1878 three years later. The previous Sapporo Agricultural College used the American colonial-style structure as a drill hall — a “dojo” for martial arts instruction — for its students (presently Hokkaido University). E. Howard & Co. (which later became the Waltham Watch Company) of Boston, Massachusetts, installed the four-faced clock in July 1881.


The Clock Tower still proudly displays two red stars on its gabled roof, which together symbolize the North Star and Japan’s pioneer spirit in Hokkaido’s northward growth. Visitors can enter the museum on the first level by walking through this designated Important Cultural Property, which displays both the building’s history and Sapporo’s colonial evolution. The second level is a large ceremonial hall that holds community events and concerts on occasion.


Try to count the total number of seventeen red stars on the foundation of this Meiji-era watch if you’re up for a challenge. The time is ticking away!


Directions to the Location

2 Chome-11 Kita 1 Jōnishi, Chūō-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaidō 060-0001, Japan


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