Sapporo Clock Tower

Sapporo Clock Tower

Travel Guide

Sapporo Clock Tower is regarded as both a historical and cultural symbol of Sapporo. The building was constructed during the early period of Sapporo's development in 1878 as a drill hall of the Sapporo Agricultural College. Currently, this is the oldest building standing in Sapporo.

The Sapporo Clock Tower is a wooden structure and well-known local tourist attraction. The building is of American design and is one of the few surviving Western-style buildings in Sapporo. It is known by many as the symbol of the city and is a main feature of almost all domestic and international tours of Sapporo. The clock after which it is named continues to run and keep time, and the chimes can be heard every hour.

The tower is all that remains of the drill hall of the former Sapporo Agricultural College (now University). The city itself was chosen as the administrative centre of in 1868, which is the date currently recognised as the official birth of the city.

In 1970, Sapporo Clock Tower was designated an Important Cultural Property, and certified as Mechanical Engineering Heritage of Japan in 2009.

Today, the Clock Tower serves as a museum with displays about the building's history and Sapporo on the first floor. On the second floor are displays about the clock and a spacious ceremony hall that calls to mind the simple buildings of the colonial American Midwest.

One of the key figures of Sapporo Agricultural College is Dr. William S. Clark. When the college opened in 1876, Clark, then president of Massachusetts Agricultural College, was invited to be vice-president. Although he stayed in Japan for only 8 month, he really contributed to Japan. Dr. Clark's final words to his students were, Boys be ambitious, which is still famous today.


Travel Advice


Viewing and photographing the building is very popular among visitors to Sapporo, and visiting it forms a part of any tour of the city. However many expect to see a large structure and are disappointed at the relatively small size compared to the tall office buildings which now surround it.

It is possible for members of the public to rent the large hall upstairs for private functions. It is also occasionally used for concerts.

Did you know?

The red Polaris is regarded as the symbol of the pioneer spirit and the development of Hokkaido. There are 17 red stars in the tower. government and beer company have the same symbol too.

The tower holds the four-faced chiming clock. The clock was installed in July 1881 by E. Howard & Co. (headed by a co-founder of what would eventually become the Waltham Watch Company) of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The clock is still used and the chimes can be heard every hour to tell the time. It is said that in the end of 19 century, the chimes can be heard 4 kilometers far.

The clock rings the bell at night too. Since the clock is located among the offices, it won’t cause noisy sound problem.

The scenery looks distorted when visitors look out through the glass windows. The glass windows used in the tower were settled long before. Although there is no Meiji era made glass window left, the tower wants to keep every old glass window even it’s broken and has no plan to replace with new one.

The inside of the tower looks like church but it was a drill hall.

The power source of Sapporo Clock Tower is pendulum but not electricity, so the escapement needs to be rotated twice a week to get power.

The clock has over 120 years of history and the parts of the clock have moving the same years. Except the extendable parts such as rope and screws, most of the parts are original ones which have been used since the clock was settled. Nowadays, it is rare to see a pendulum clock which has been moving from Meji era till today in the world.

The clock uses pendulum to keep its time so the earthquake might cause the clock to stop. When the clock stops, the staff will do the repair even in the night. Sapporo Clock Tower has a solid foundation so a small earthquake will not affect the clock.



Address North 1 West 2, Chuo-ward, Sapporo-shi,
Phone 011-231-0838
Admission Adult: 200 yen (Groups 180 yen) Adult: over 15
Groups: over 15
Hours 08:45 to 17:10 Entry until 10 minntes before closing
Closed January 1 to 3
Duration 20 minutes
Getting There By Train
10 minute walk from JR Sapporo Station.
5 minute walk from Odori Station on subway Nanboku Line, subway Tozai Line or subway Toho Line.

By Car
Take Sasson Expressway to the Sapporokita exit and Nationaly Highway route 5. It is approximately 4 kilometers 15 minutes from exit.
Parking No parking available

Attractions in Japan