SAPPORO--City officials called a time-out on the landmark Sapporo Clock Tower starting at 5:10 p.m. on May 31, which will be covered for renovation work for five months.
However, the clock will continue to tick and its bells will chime every hour during the renovation period, which is expected to last until the end of October.
Scaffolding will be set up and a tarpaulin will be placed around the designated national important cultural property. Workers will repaint the walls in white and the roof in red and renovate some parts of the building. The estimated cost of the project is 55 million yen ($503,900).
The building was constructed as a martial arts hall in 1878 as part of the former Sapporo Agricultural College, now Hokkaido University.
The renovation work was initially scheduled for 2020 but the municipal government decided to move the date up due to the increasing deterioration of the building, in particular, the exterior of the 140-year-old wooden structure.
Sightseers will be unable to see the exterior or go inside the building during the work period, which will likely result in a decrease of tourism revenue.
The municipal government will try to accommodate visitors through pasting a life-size scale picture of the popular clock tower onto the tarpaulin that is covering it.
From July, it will display pictures of the popular building in the lobby on the first floor of the city hall, which is located across from the clock tower.
The renowned landmark, one of the top tourist magnets in Hokkaido, has continued to draw an increasing number of foreign sightseers, totaling about 225,000 in fiscal 2017.