History of Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University was founded in 1876.

For 136 years, Hokkaido University has earned a reputation for pioneering research on the cutting edge. Today, Hokkaido University is an advanced research institution, with strong links to industry, community and government. Our stunning main campus is located in downtown Sapporo, within walking distance to almost everything the beautiful city has to offer. With an additional campus in the coastal city of Hakodate, Hokkaido University has become the powerhouse of innovation and research of northern Japan.;xNLx;Founded back in 1876 as Sapporo Agricultural College - we were remarkably the nation’s first institute to issue formal degrees. The phrase “Be ambitious!”, which serves as Hokkaido University’s motto, is derived from the words of Dr. William Clark, the founding father of the College. The quote not only inspired the very first pupils in 1877, but remains extremely popular today as a message to encourage all young people. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Find out more about our rich and fascinating history by using this timeline which offers detailed information about our past set against a backdrop of historical events which helped shape contemporary Japan. We hope you enjoy it.

1550-01-01 00:00:00

Ainu Mosir

In the days before settlement by the Japanese people, what we now call Hokkaido was the homeland of the indigenous Ainu people.

1604-01-01 00:00:00

The Matsumae Fiefdom

The Kakizaki family gained exclusive trading rights with the Ainu and established the Wajin presence in Ainu Mosir.

1669-01-01 00:00:00

Shakushain’s War

The Ainu rose up against Wajin (Japanese) in a dispute over hunting and fishing rights. It was the largest ever conflict between the two peoples.

1799-01-01 00:00:00

Direct Rule and Exploration

The Tokugawa Shogunate placed Ezo under its direct control and commissioned the mapping/exploration of Ezo and beyond.

1826-07-31 00:00:00

Dr W.S.Clark

A great man with a great legacy

1854-01-01 00:00:00

The Treaty of Peace and Amity

As a result of the Treaty of Peace and Amity, Hakodate was opened up as a treaty port.

1868-01-01 00:00:00

The Meiji Restoration and Boshin War

The civil war between the Tokugawa Shogunate and forces urging an Imperial Restoration ended in Hakodate.

1869-01-01 00:00:00

The Development Commission

The new Meiji Government made the settlement of Hokkaido its policy, and a new capital was born: Sapporo.

1872-01-01 00:00:00

Developing Japan’s Railways

Ten years after the first railroad was built in Japan, Hokkaido got its first railroad too.

1876-03-03 00:00:00

A Contract signed

W.S Clark's contract to assist in the foundation of Sapporo Agricultural College. Signed in Washington, United States on March 3, 1876

1876-08-14 00:00:00

Clark gives the opening address of Sapporo Agricultural College

In front of foreign staff and his new students, Clark delivered the Opening Address for the College

1877-01-01 00:00:00

The Satsuma Rebellion

Saigo Takamori led the last stand against the sweeping reforms introduced after the Meiji Restoration.

1877-04-16 00:00:00

“Boys be Ambitious!”

Clark leaves Sapporo

1880-07-10 00:00:00

First Commencement Exercises are held in the drill hall (Sapporo Clock Tower)

The sending-off of the first 13 graduates takes place in the Drill Hall. (now Sapporo Clock Tower)

1881-07-09 00:00:00

Kanzo UCHIMURA graduates

Author and Christian Evangelist

1881-07-09 00:00:00

Inazo NITOBE graduates

The man who undoubtedly achieved his goal of “becoming a bridge across the Pacific” – Inazo NITOBE, obtained his first of many degrees from Sapporo Agricultural College.

1881-07-09 00:00:00

Kingo MIYABE graduates

Plant Taxonomist and first honorary citizen of Sapporo

1882-03-01 00:00:00

Isami Hiroi studies at Hokudai with Cecil Peabody

One of Japan's most famous engineers studies with a renowned scholar from America

1886-01-01 00:00:00

The Imperial University System

The birth of the imperial university, prestigious universities educating the elite of Japan. Hokkaido University joined the club in 1918.

1886-01-01 00:00:00

The Botanic Gardens open

The oldest botanic gardens in Japan

1888-01-01 00:00:00

William Penn Brooks

The Minister of Education Japan confers on William Penn Brooks, one of the university’s founding fathers, the degree of ‘Doctor of Agriculture’ recognizing his contribution to agriculture in Japan.

1888-10-01 00:00:00

The Team

Dr Clark brought with him a team of teaching staff to assist him in setting up Sapporo Agricultural College. William Wheeler and David Penhallow arrived with Clark. William P Brooks arrived three months after Clark's departure, but stayed until October 1888. All three men left their own legacies.

1889-01-01 00:00:00

The Meiji Constitution

The Meiji Constitution was promulgated. It was the first constitution in Japan’s history.

1891-01-01 00:00:00

Shosuke SATO 1st President

A lifelong dedication to Hokkaido University stretching over 5 decades from his student days to becoming President, Shosuke SATO’s legacy to Hokkaido University is unsurpassed.

1894-01-01 00:00:00

The Sino-Japanese War

Japan defeated China in a war over control of the Korean peninsula.

1895-07-01 16:08:49

Shonen MATSUMURA graduates

The pioneer of entomological research in East Asia, Shonen Matsumura graduated

1898-01-01 00:00:00

Japan as Imperial Power

Japan joined the club of imperial nations through victories in overseas wars and the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.

1901-01-01 00:00:00

The Sapporo Agricultural College celebrates 25 years.

All events to celebrate 25 years, were held in the Drill Hall, now Sapporo’s famous Clock Tower.

1901-07-01 00:00:00

Takeo ARISHIMA graduates

Writer of “A Certain Woman” graduates

1903-01-01 00:00:00

Sapporo Campus is relocated to its current home

The beginning of one of the most attractive university campuses in Japan

1903-01-01 00:00:00

Poplar Avenue is planted

A symbol of Hokkaido University

1904-12-01 00:00:00

Inazo NITOBE completes his most famous work

'Bushido - The Soul of Japan'

1907-01-01 00:00:00

We graduate from a college to a University

Sapporo Agricultural College becomes known as Tohoku Imperial University

1907-01-01 00:00:00

The School of Fisheries is established

1909-01-01 00:00:00

Furukawa Hall is completed

The Furukawa Hall, built in splendid French Renaissance Style was completed within a 6 month period in 1909.

1912-01-01 00:00:00

The End of the Meiji Period

The Meiji Emperor died and the new Taisho Era began.

1918-04-01 00:00:00

Sechi Kato

A pioneer of a different kind – the first woman to study at Hokudai

1919-04-01 00:00:00

The School of Medicine is established

With the foundation of Hokkaido Imperial University, the School of Medicine is established in 1919, making it one of the oldest faculties on campus.

1920-01-01 00:00:00

The First National Census

The population of Hokkaido grew rapidly and reached 2.36 million.

1924-09-01 00:00:00

The School of Engineering is established

The School of Engineering is established

1925-01-01 00:00:00

Universal Male Suffrage

Restrictions on voting were lowered and all males over the age of 25 became eligible to vote in Japan.

1926-01-01 00:00:00

50th Anniversary

Now known as Hokkaido Imperial University, we reached 50 years.

1930-01-01 00:00:00

Peppermint Boom

In the midst of the worldwide depression, the town of Kitami in northern Hokkaido boomed with a peppermint rush.

1930-01-01 00:00:00

The School of Science is established

The School of Science was established in 1930 in the building now known as the Hokkaido University Museum. Having been completed in November of the previous year, the school officially opened in April 1930.

1930-12-19 00:00:00

Takajiro MINAMI 2nd President

Takajiro MINAMI was a student of Sapporo Agricultural College in its second year, and later became the second President of Hokkaido Imperial University

1933-12-09 00:00:00

Kumao TAKAOKA 3rd President

Presided over the building of the Agricultural Building which is considered today as one of the University's iconic structures and welcomed the Showa Emperior to the University in October 1936.

1934-01-01 00:00:00

Hokkaido’s first national parks

Daisetsuzan and Lake Akan became Hokkaido’s first national parks in 1934.

1935-07-01 00:00:00

Akira IFUKUBE graduates

The man behind the score of one of the world's classic films - Godzilla

1936-03-12 00:00:00

Ukichiro NAKAYA develops artificial snow crystals

The first artificial snow crystals in the world are developed on the Sapporo Campus

1937-12-01 00:00:00

Yutaka KON 4th President

Yutaka Kon is remembered for reparing the university as the war approached whilst at the same time, putting in place measures to keep the university operational over the period of the war. Over his period of presidency, he also oversaw the setting up of the Institute of Low Temperature Science, the Catalysis Research Center, and the Research Institute of Ultrashort Waves. (now RIES)

History of Hokkaido University

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