Built in 1888, this building is known to Sapporo residents as “Red Bricks” or akarenga. It has an octagonal dome the architecture of which was borrowed from that of the Massachusetts State House in the USA. The actual design though was done by local architects and the building was constructed utilizing of local materials – until that time most western style buildings depended largely on prefabricated components that were expensive to import giving the condition of Japan’s economy at that time.
When completed, it was one of the largest and tallest buildings in Japan and symbolized the prestige and importance the Meiji Government placed on the development of Hokkaido. Unfortunately the building needed to be rebuilt in 1911 after a devastating fire, and it wasn’t until 1969 that its future was safeguarded by listing as an important cultural property.
Why the popular name akarenga ? The building is constructed from 2.5 million or so red bricks that are laid in the French style. Brick buildings are rare in Japan – great big red brick buildings are bound to attract some attention.
The roof lines are clean and the roof itself is an unusual style. Have a close look at the “chimneys” – they are actually air vents. The tiles are not clay but slate – also unusual for Japan. Inside the building most of the finishings are made from wood. All of the windows are double pane to provide protection against the cold Sapporo winter. The most popular spot amongst Japanese visitors is the staircase under the three beautifully decorated arches.
“Red Bricks” is still used for some official functions such as receptions and banquets for visiting dignitaries. Provided there is no event on at the time or in preparation, you should be able to enter the former Governor’s office, and see the collection of European and Japanese style paintings and other artworks.
Address: North 3, West 6, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Hours: 9.00am-5.00pm (Closed December 29th-January 3rd)