“At the early years of the Restoration Period (the late 1860s) the vast plains of Hokkaido covering 34,700 square miles were thickly covered with dense forests and wild brambles, a veritable home of the bears and other wild animals. And it was only in 1873 when Sapporo was decided upon as the Metropolis of the Virgin-Island and plans were laid for an ideal city.
“With a will the pioneers fought their way through the damp fogs and pernicious mist, determined to erect a mighty bulwark in the North and to open up the priceless treasure in the Island in accordance with the gracious wisdom of the mighty Emperor. By 1876 a majestic Government Building had been constructed and the foundation of an advanced College was auspiciously laid.
“Fifty years have passed since then, and now Hokkaido has become the home of three millions of industrious people. The University has grown too with the land, and now it is one of the six great Imperial Universities in Japan.
“… In April , full authorizations having been obtained the Governor wrote to Minister Kiyonari Yoshida, then stationed at Washington, D.C., requesting him to find a capable men of experience in agricultural education as President of the new college, adding that high qualifications would be necessary since the College was otherwise to be managed by men without much experience in the new work.
“Minister Yoshida did not spare pains in searching for the man for the Mikado’s land. He sought far and wide throughout America. At last he found a man who now seems to have been God-sent. The Minister met him personally one day in December in a friend’s home, sounded out the man and knew at once that his caliber was big.
“On March 3, 1876 a contract of employment was duly signed at the Japanese Legation in Washington. The distinguished man in question was no other than President William Smith Clark, Ph.D., LL.D., of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst , Mass., U.S.A.
“… The opening exercises of the new College were auspiciously carried out in the First Lecture Hall at 10 a.m., on the fourteenth of August 1876. This was the true birthday of the Sapporo Agricultural College, the forerunner of the present University and the first institution for advanced agricultural education in Japan.”
– The Semi-Centennial of the Hokkaido Imperial University, 1876-1926, The Hokkaido Imperial University, 1926