“A Wild Sheep Chase” at Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Another recommended trip within the remarkably beautiful city of Sapporo is to head down south to Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill for three things- sheep, fresh air and a photo opportunity with teens on school trip imitating the statue of a man with hands outstretched and pointing at a distance.
With an elevated and unobstructed view of central Sapporo and the Ishikari plain, a trip to the observation hill is highly recommended anytime of the day, though on my case I was there few minutes the last admission. I almost skipped the observation hill for some lazy reason but I’m glad I did not give into the temptation of just sitting at cafe somewhere around the JR station.
During my visit at Biei, I was hoping to see sheep, attributing my desires to the knowledge that Murakami’s “A Wild Sheep Chase” novel was inspired by Hokkaido, but I only saw cows and nothing else. So when I saw everyone running towards the fence, I ran as well and behold herd of cute sheep.
In 1919, sheep breeding was started at the hill by the Japanese government, with the intention of increasing the farmers income by increasing the number of sheep- sans the origin of the name of the hill “Hitsujigaoka” which means “hill of sheep”. Nowadays, not only the breeding program continues, the observation hill and the sheep became a famous tourist destination.
What makes my afternoon more fun is the fact when I visited Hitsujigaoka there are buses of school teens on a field trip. Seeing them just having carefree laugh is quite energizing and the Japanese school uniform is always a treat to photograph, particularly when they are imitating the bronze statue of Dr.William Smith Clark.
Clark was hired as a foreign adviser by the Japanese government and became the first president of Sapporo Agricultural College or now known as Hokkaido University. He is a famous figure in education/agricultural field in Hokkaido and the words he spoke to the student is one of the widely used and recognized term in Japan- “Boys, be ambitious!”
Apart from the sheep and the statue, Hitsujigaoka Observation hill houses several facilities namely a small wedding chapel, a gift shop called “Austrian House”, a rest house serving Mongolian barbecue and the Sapporo Snow Festival Museum.
A few hours spent at Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill is another rewarding trip at Sapporo City, I would definitely recommend.