History Article List


HOHEIKAN under construction Hokkaido University Library

Planning background and construction

In 1869 (Meiji 2), the Meiji government established the Development Commission to develop the Northern areas and began development in earnest in Hokkaido. Initially, honjin, waki-honjin, and the central government branch office were used as accommodations for tourists, but with the growing need for new accommodations, the HOHEIKAN was established. Construction was set to be made at Nishi 1-chome, Kita 1-jo, Chuo-ku, Sapporo (currently the location of Kanamoto Hall) and began in the spring of 1879 (Meiji 12). The main building was completed the following year in November 1880 (Meiji 13). It is said that the name HOHEIKAN was decided immediately after the construction bid, and had been introduced since January 1879 (Meiji 12). Attached facilities, surrounding structures such as iron fences and gates, and gardens were constructed after the completion of the main building and were all completed in August 1881 (Meiji 14).


HOHEIKAN after completion of construction, Hokkaido University Library

Opening and state during the Meiji period

Immediately after completion, the HOHEIKAN was honored to be the temporary Sapporo lodging for the Emperor Meiji on his Imperial visit to Hokkaido from August 30 to September 2, 1881 (Meiji 14), a magnificent start to its operations. On November 6, 1881 (Meiji 14), two months after the opening, the Development Commission loaned the building to the private sector free of charge, and the traditional inn and Western-style restaurant began operations. In February 1882 (Meiji 15), the Development Commission was abolished, and the management of the HOHEIKAN was transferred to Sapporo Prefecture, and then again to the Ministry of the Imperial Household shortly after. When the Imperial Estate Bureau Sapporo Branch Office was established in 1890 (Meiji 23), the affiliations of the hotel including its management were once again changed. Nonetheless, it had played a role as a representative hotel and banquet hall for the northern capital. In October 1899 (Meiji 32), when the local government was established with the introduction of the Hokkaido ward system, the head of the ward began using the HOHEIKAN as a community center.


HOHEIKAN (1918) Sapporo City Public Archives

State during the Taisho period

The Taisho era saw the steady molding of Sapporo's foundation as a metropolis. In 1918 (Taisho 7), the Hokkaido Semi-Centennial Exhibition was held at Nakajima Park and Sapporo Ekimae Street, and Sapporo showed activity like never before. Amid the merry activities, the HOHEIKAN's lack of capacity became apparent, and an opportunity to construct a new public hall arose. In 1922 (Taisho 11), Sapporo was municipalized, and in December of the same year, Sapporo City gained ownership of the HOHEIKAN. With that, the plan to build a public hall, which had been in motion for some time, was quickly brought to fruition.


Public hall established on the northern side of the HOHEIKAN (1927) Sapporo City Public Archives

Time as a public hall

In November 1927 (Showa 2), a new public hall was completed on the northern side of the HOHEIKAN, and the HOHEIKAN had a new start with the opening of the Showa period. The HOHEIKAN and the new building were jointly called the public hall, but they were also sometimes referred to separately. The long-awaited public hall was met with success soon after its opening. In 1933 (Showa 8), the HOHEIKAN was designated as a historic site in relation to the Imperial visit of Emperor Meiji.
*The designation as a historic site was rescinded in 1948 (Showa 23).


HOHEIKAN (as seen from a watchtower) (1951) Sapporo City Public Archives

War and the HOHEIKAN

After the Pacific War began in 1941 (Showa 16), the HOHEIKAN was occupied by the Northern Army in Sapporo in 1943, and all operations were suspended. After the war, the HOHEIKAN was seized by the Occupation Forces and used as lodging for each troop. In 1946 (Showa 21), the Occupation Forces took over the Mitsukoshi Sapporo branch store, and Mitsukoshi opened operations at the HOHEIKAN instead. Sapporo reclaimed the HOHEIKAN in October 1947 (Showa 22). The HOHEIKAN's function as a community center boosted with the promotion of post-war social education and got a new start as the Sapporo Community Center in February 1948 (Showa 23). In September 1949 (Showa 24), it was renamed the Sapporo Civic Hall.


Dismantling the HOHEIKAN (1957) Sapporo City Public Archives

Relocation to Nakajima Park

In 1956 (Showa 31), a campaign took place for the Civic Hall to be rebuilt and made a general center for citizens' cultural activities. In response to this request, Sapporo City decided to establish a new Civic Hall. Because the HOHEIKAN stood on the site where the new Civic Hall was to be constructed, there was a debate on whether to demolish or preserve the HOHEIKAN, which had already stood for over 76 years. Many citizens and people with experience or academic standing suggested that the valuable building be preserved, leading to its dismantling and reconstruction. The HOHEIKAN was relocated to Nakajima Park in May 1958 (Showa 33).


Applications for use of the wedding hall (1964) Sapporo City Public Archives

Activities as a wedding venue, to the present

After relocation, the HOHEIKAN was used for about two months as the local hall and art museum of the Hokkaido Grand Fair held in 1958 (Showa 33) and after that opened as a general wedding venue. The mayor at the time made the congratulatory address for the first wedding held at the venue and congratulated the new venture of the HOHEIKAN while giving well wishes to the newly married couple. In 1964 (Showa 39), the country designated the venue as an Important Cultural Property. The HOHEIKAN was well-received as a prestigious wedding venue, and by 1967 (Showa 42) had hosted more than 1,000 wedding ceremonies per year, making it the most frequently used venue in the city. In 1980 (Showa 55), a commemorative ceremony was held to celebrate 100 years since its foundation. Restoration work was carried out for 5 years starting 1982 (Showa 57), over five years. Further construction was done from 2012 (Heisei 24) to March 2016 (Heisei 28), including preservation and repair work such as antiseismic reinforcement, and utilization and maintenance work such as the installation of a new annex building.


HOHEIKAN on completion (1881) Sapporo City Public Archives

Timeline of the History of HOHEIKAN

Year (name of era) Events surrounding the HOHEIKAN
1878 (Meiji 11) Plans of construction begin through the Development Commission, designed by Yoshiyuki Adachi
1880 (Meiji 13) Construction done in November, completion ceremony held on December 3
1881 (Meiji 14) The Emperor Meiji stays at the HOHEIKAN on his Imperial visit
1882 (Meiji 15) The HOHEIKAN falls under the jurisdiction of Sapporo Prefecture
1883 (Meiji 16) The HOHEIKAN hosts a celebration for the entire Horonai Railway
1885 (Meiji 18) Jurisdiction transferred to the Ministry of the Imperial Household
1886 (Meiji 19) Michitoshi Iwamura, the first Director of the Hokkaido Agency,
develops the idea of the Hokkaido Takushoku at the HOHEIKAN
1910 (Meiji 43) The Ministry of the Imperial Household lends the HOHEIKAN to Sapporo Ward
1911 (Meiji 44) The Crown Prince (later Emperor Taisho) visits
1922 (Taisho 11) The Crown Prince (later Emperor Showa) visits
The Ministry of the Imperial Household grants the HOHEIKAN to Sapporo City
1927 (Showa 2) A large public hall with a capacity of 1,500 people is built behind the HOHEIKAN on the northern side
1943 (Showa 18) The Northern Army occupies the venue as the 1st Air Division headquarters
1945 (Showa 20) The HOHEIKAN is seized by the Occupation Forces and used as lodging for stationed troops
1946 (Showa 21) Mitsukoshi Sapporo Store temporarily relocates to the HOHEIKAN
1948 (Showa 23) Designation as a historic site is rescinded
The HOHEIKAN is renamed Sapporo Community Center
1949 (Showa 24) The HOHEIKAN is renamed Sapporo Civic Hall
1958 (Showa 33) Relocation to Nakajima Park is completed
The HOHEIKAN is used as a venue for the "local hall and art museum" opened by the Hokkaido Exhibition
The HOHEIKAN starts venture as a general wedding hall
1961 (Showa 36) The HOHEIKAN is designated as a Tangible Cultural Property of Sapporo
1964 (Showa 39) The HOHEIKAN is designated as a National Important Cultural Property
1968 (Showa 43) The 10,000th wedding is held at the venue
1982 (Showa 57) A planned five-year preservation and repair work begins
2012 (Heisei 24) A planned five-year preservation and repair work including antiseismic reinforcement, and utilization and maintenance work, begins
Highlights Learn More