Vows to be ‘Ambitious’ at Hokkaido Statue Hit 100,000; Famous Quote Attributed to Sapporo Agricultural College Professor Clark Lives On

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Saki Tsurumoto, center, receives a commemorative gift for writing the 100,000th vow of ambition, in front of the statue of Professor Clark in Sapporo.

SAPPORO — Dr. William Clark, the first vice principal of Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University) is known for his quote, “Boys, be ambitious.” The quote is so enduring that “vows of ambition,” written by guests visiting his statue, hit 100,000 as of Tuesday.

The statue was installed 48 years ago at the Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Deck in the city on April 16, 1976. Visitors can write their name, age, place of residence and future goals on a gold-colored vow of ambition sheet sold for ¥100 and drop it in the mailbox installed on the bronze statue’s base.

Saki Tsurumoto, 29, a company employee from Fukuoka who visited with her husband, sent in the 100,000th sheet of paper. It read: “I will become a person who can lead the team [at work].”

According to the Sapporo Tourist Association, which manages the deck, no details on how the practice of writing a vow of ambition started are available. However, it is known that about 200 local sixth-graders and others put sheets in the mailbox the day it was installed.

Sometime later, students preparing for their entrance exams at Hokkaido University began writing their vows, hoping to pass the exams.

Chusei Mannami of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Kosei Yoshida, who later joined the Orix Buffaloes, also wrote vows. They promised to succeed in 2018 after it was decided they would join the team.

The sheets of paper are collected and stored daily, and the total number compiled over the past 48 years fills 300 volumes.

“I hope people will come to the observatory to ‘reunite’ with their vowed ambitions,” said Keisuke Saito, assistant manager of the observatory.