On my first trip to Sapporo four years ago, I never got to see the city’s manhole covers. They were buried under at least two to three feet of snow and I wasn’t about to go digging around on the streets and sidewalks to find them.
They were much easier to spot this past July, when my family and I spent a lovely three days in near perfect 70 degree weather exploring Japan’s northernmost major city.
The picture on the cover is the Sapporo Clock Tower, or Tokeidai. The wooden, Western-style building – the oldest standing structure in Sapporo – was built in 1878 in Sapporo’s settler hey-day; the clock itself was shipped over from Boston and installed a few years later in 1881. Today, the building itself houses a small museum and info center (not really worth the admission charge).
The Sapporo Clock Tower is allegedly known as one of Japan’s top three gakkari (disappointing) sights, along with one of the gates of Shuri castle in Okinawa and the Harimaya Bridge in Kochi . The clock tower IS a bit hidden, dwarfed by the size of the buildings around it and not exactly located in a pristine setting. Still, it’s worth wandering by to snap a photo … but if not, just find the manhole cover. 🙂
(By the way, I think the fish on the cover are herring. This was a MAJOR moneymaker for colonists in Hokkaido until the supply dried up by the mid 20th century.)