Retro Japan: Northern European-style Hokkaido government residence stands out in an urban garden

SAPPORO – The stunning contrast of red and white outside the official residence of the governor of Hokkaido in the prefectural capital stands out against a lush urban garden.






The second floor living room of the official residence of the governor of Hokkaido, with its distinct A-shaped ceiling, is seen in the Chuo district of Sapporo on April 19, 2022. (Mainichi/Taichi Kaizuka)=Click/tap photo for more pictures.

The structure and its garden in the Chuo district of Sapporo have been popular with locals. It was built in 1936 by the Mitsui Partnership Company conglomerate as the company’s new holiday home annex for visitors. It was confiscated by the US military after World War II, but ownership was transferred to the municipal government of Sapporo in 1952, and then to the prefectural government of Hokkaido the following year. Since then, it has been used for meetings and events as the official residence of the governor.

The red frames of the building’s exterior, including the pillars and exposed beams, stand out against the white plastered walls, using the half-timbered technique used in Britain and other parts of northern Europe . Wood from Hokkaido’s local mizunara tree, a variety of Mongolian oak, is used, and the interior of the building retains the atmosphere of when it was built. In a living room with an open wooden roof on the second floor, the A-frame ceiling beams are visible. The room is particularly impressive because the ceiling is spacious and sunlight enters through a large window.

The structure and the garden are open to the public free of charge, although the latter is closed in winter.

The facility’s director, Hiroaki Nakajima, said, “We would like visitors to witness the history of this building, which is preserved because many people, including development commissioners (from Hokkaido), were involved, as well as the beauty of the garden in the urban area.”

(Japanese original by Taichi Kaizuka, Hokkaido Photo Group)






A chandelier that uses tree bark for lampshades is seen at the official residence of the governor of Hokkaido in the Chuo district of Sapporo on April 19, 2022. (Mainichi/Taichi Kaizuka)=Click/tap photo for more pictures.

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The Japanese version of this article was originally published on May 8, 2022.

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This series explores the architectural marvels and secrets of Japan’s past. Read more articles about retro Japan here.

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