Context of Hokkaido

Hokkaido (Japanese: 北海道, Hepburn: Hokkaidō, pronounced [hokkaꜜidoː] (listen); lit.'Northern Sea Circuit') is Japan's second largest island and comprises the largest and northernmost prefecture, making up its own region. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaidō from Honshu; the two islands are connected by the undersea railway Seikan Tunnel.

The largest city on Hokkaidō is its capital, Sapporo, which is also its only ordinance-designated city. Sakhalin lies about 43 kilometers (26 mi) to the north of Hokkaidō, and to the east and northeast are the Kuril Islands, which are administered by Russia, though the four most southerly are...Read more

Hokkaido (Japanese: 北海道, Hepburn: Hokkaidō, pronounced [hokkaꜜidoː] (listen); lit.'Northern Sea Circuit') is Japan's second largest island and comprises the largest and northernmost prefecture, making up its own region. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaidō from Honshu; the two islands are connected by the undersea railway Seikan Tunnel.

The largest city on Hokkaidō is its capital, Sapporo, which is also its only ordinance-designated city. Sakhalin lies about 43 kilometers (26 mi) to the north of Hokkaidō, and to the east and northeast are the Kuril Islands, which are administered by Russia, though the four most southerly are claimed by Japan. Hokkaidō was formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso.

Although there were Japanese settlers who had ruled the southern tip of the island since the 16th century, Hokkaido was considered foreign territory that was inhabited by the indigenous people of the island, known as the Ainu people. While geographers such as Mogami Tokunai and Mamiya Rinzō explored the island in the Edo period, Japan's governance was limited to Oshima Peninsula until the 17th century. The Japanese settlers began their migration to Hokkaido in the 17th century, which often resulted in clashes and revolts between Japanese and Ainu populations. In 1869, following the Meiji Restoration, Ezo was annexed by Japan under on-going colonial practices, and renamed Hokkaido. After this event, Japanese settlers started to colonize the island. While Japanese settlers colonized the island, the Ainu people were dispossessed of their land, forced to assimilate, and aggressively discriminated against by the Japanese settlers.

More about Hokkaido

Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 5383579
  • Area 77984
History
  • Early history

    During the Jomon period the local culture and the associated hunter-gatherer lifestyle flourished in Hokkaidō, beginning over 15,000 years ago. In contrast to the island of Honshu, Hokkaidō saw an absence of conflict during this time period. Jomon beliefs in natural spirits are theorized to be the origins of Ainu spirituality. About 2,000 years ago, the island was colonized by Yayoi people, and much of the island's population shifted away from hunting and gathering towards agriculture.[1]

    The Nihon Shoki, finished in 720 AD, is often said to be the first mention of Hokkaidō in recorded history. According to the text, Abe no Hirafu[2] led a large navy and army to northern areas from 658 to 660 and came into contact with the Mishihase and Emishi. One of the places Hirafu went to was called Watarishima (渡島), which is often believed to be present-day Hokkaidō. However, many theories exist concerning the details of this event, including the location of Watarishima and the common belief that the Emishi in Watarishima were the ancestors of the present-day Ainu people.[citation needed]

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    Early history

    During the Jomon period the local culture and the associated hunter-gatherer lifestyle flourished in Hokkaidō, beginning over 15,000 years ago. In contrast to the island of Honshu, Hokkaidō saw an absence of conflict during this time period. Jomon beliefs in natural spirits are theorized to be the origins of Ainu spirituality. About 2,000 years ago, the island was colonized by Yayoi people, and much of the island's population shifted away from hunting and gathering towards agriculture.[1]

    The Nihon Shoki, finished in 720 AD, is often said to be the first mention of Hokkaidō in recorded history. According to the text, Abe no Hirafu[2] led a large navy and army to northern areas from 658 to 660 and came into contact with the Mishihase and Emishi. One of the places Hirafu went to was called Watarishima (渡島), which is often believed to be present-day Hokkaidō. However, many theories exist concerning the details of this event, including the location of Watarishima and the common belief that the Emishi in Watarishima were the ancestors of the present-day Ainu people.[citation needed]

    During the Nara and Heian periods (710–1185), people in Hokkaidō conducted trade with Dewa Province, an outpost of the Japanese central government. From the Middle Ages, the people in Hokkaidō began to be called Ezo. Hokkaidō subsequently became known as Ezochi (蝦夷地, lit. "Ezo-land")[3] or Ezogashima (蝦夷ヶ島, lit. "Island of the Ezo"). The Ezo mainly relied upon hunting and fishing and obtained rice and iron through trade with the Japanese.[citation needed]

    Feudal Japan
     
    Palace reception near Hakodate in 1751. Ainu bringing gifts (cf. omusha)

    During the Muromachi period (1336–1573), the Japanese created a settlement at the south of the Oshima Peninsula, with a series of fortified residences such as that of Shinoridate. As more people moved to the settlement to avoid battles, disputes arose between the Japanese and the Ainu. The disputes eventually developed into war. Takeda Nobuhiro killed the Ainu leader, Koshamain,[2] and defeated the opposition in 1457. Nobuhiro's descendants became the rulers of the Matsumae-han, which was granted exclusive trading rights with the Ainu in the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods (1568–1868). The Matsumae family's economy relied upon trade with the Ainu. They held authority over the south of Ezochi until the end of the Edo period.[citation needed]

     
    The samurai and the Ainu, c. 1775

    The Matsumae clan rule over the Ainu must be understood in the context of the expansion of the Japanese feudal state. Medieval military leaders in northern Honshu (ex. Northern Fujiwara, Akita clan) maintained only tenuous political and cultural ties to the imperial court and its proxies, the Kamakura shogunate and Ashikaga shogunate. Feudal strongmen sometimes located themselves within medieval institutional order, taking shogunate titles, while in other times they assumed titles that seemed to give them a non-Japanese identity. In fact, many of the feudal strongmen were descended from Emishi military leaders who had been assimilated into Japanese society.[4] The Matsumae clan were of Yamato descent like other ethnic Japanese people, whereas the Emishi of northern Honshu were a distinctive group related to the Ainu. The Emishi were conquered and integrated into the Japanese state dating back as far as the 8th century and as result began to lose their distinctive culture and ethnicity as they became minorities. By the time the Matsumae clan ruled over the Ainu, most of the Emishi were ethnically mixed and physically closer to Japanese than they were to Ainu. From this, the "transformation" theory postulates that native Jōmon peoples changed gradually with the infusion of Yayoi immigrants into the Tōhoku, in contrast to the "replacement" theory that posits the Jōmon was replaced by the Yayoi.[5]

     
    Matsumae Takahiro, a Matsumae lord of the late Edo period (December 10, 1829 – June 9, 1866)

    There were numerous revolts by the Ainu against the feudal rule. The last large-scale resistance was Shakushain's revolt in 1669–1672. In 1789, a smaller movement known as the Menashi–Kunashir rebellion was crushed. After that rebellion, the terms "Japanese" and "Ainu" referred to clearly distinguished groups, and the Matsumae were unequivocally Japanese.

    According to John A. Harrison of the University of Florida, prior to 1868 Japan used proximity as its claim Hokkaido, Saghalien and the Kuril Islands; however, Japan had never really explored, governed, or exploited the areas, and this claim was invalidated by the movement of Russia into the Northeast Pacific area and by Russian settlements on Kamchatka, Saghalien and the Okhotsk Coast.[6]

    Leading up to the Meiji Restoration, the Tokugawa shogunate realized there was a need to prepare northern defenses against a possible Russian invasion and took over control of most of Ezochi.[7] Many Japanese settlers regarded the Ainu as "inhumane and the inferior descendants of dogs." The shogunate also imposed various assimilation programs on the Ainu.[8]

    Meiji Restoration

    Hokkaidō was known as Ezochi until the Meiji Restoration. Shortly after the Boshin War in 1868, a group of Tokugawa loyalists led by Enomoto Takeaki temporarily occupied the island (the polity is commonly but mistakenly known as the Republic of Ezo), but the rebellion was crushed in May 1869. Through colonial practices, Ezochi was annexed into Japanese territory, and renamed Hokkaido.[8] Ezochi was subsequently put under control of Hakodate-fu (箱館府), Hakodate Prefectural Government. When establishing the Development Commission (開拓使, Kaitakushi), the Meiji government introduced a new name. After 1869, the northern Japanese island was known as Hokkaidō;[9] and regional subdivisions were established, including the provinces of Oshima, Shiribeshi, Iburi, Ishikari, Teshio, Kitami, Hidaka, Tokachi, Kushiro, Nemuro and Chishima.[10]

     
    The Goryōkaku fort in Hakodate
     
    The Ainu, Hokkaidō's indigenous people

    The primary purpose of the Development Commission was to secure Hokkaidō before the Russians extended their control of the Far East beyond Vladivostok. The Japanese failed to settle in the interior lowlands of the island because of aboriginal resistance.[11] The resistance was eventually destroyed, and the lowlands were under the control of the commission.[11] The most important goal of the Japanese was to increase the farm population and to create a conducive environment for emigration and settlement.[11] However, the Japanese did not have expertise in modern agricultural techniques, and only possessed primitive mining and lumbering methods.[11] Kuroda Kiyotaka was put in charge of the project, and turned to the United States for help.[11]

    His first step was to journey to the United States and recruit Horace Capron, President Ulysses S. Grant's commissioner of agriculture. From 1871 to 1873 Capron bent his efforts to expounding Western agriculture and mining, with mixed results. Frustrated with obstacles to his efforts, Capron returned home in 1875. In 1876, William S. Clark arrived to found an agricultural college in Sapporo. Although he only remained a year, Clark left a lasting impression on Hokkaidō, inspiring the Japanese with his teachings on agriculture as well as Christianity.[12] His parting words, "Boys, be ambitious!", can be found on public buildings in Hokkaidō to this day. The population of Hokkaidō boomed from 58,000 to 240,000 during that decade.[13]

    In 1882, the Development Commission was abolished. Transportation on the island was underdeveloped, so the prefecture was split into several "sub-prefectures" (支庁 shichō), namely Hakodate Prefecture (函館県, Hakodate-ken), Sapporo Prefecture (札幌県, Sapporo-ken), and Nemuro Prefecture (根室県, Nemuro-ken), that could fulfill administrative duties of the prefectural government and keep tight control over the developing island. In 1886, the three prefectures were demoted, and Hokkaidō was put under the Hokkaidō Agency (北海道庁, Hokkaidō-chō). These sub-prefectures still exist today, although they have much less power than they possessed before and during World War II; they now exist primarily to handle paperwork and other bureaucratic functions.

    World War II

    In mid-July 1945, various shipping ports, cities, and military facilities in Hokkaidō were attacked by the United States Navy's Task Force 38. On 14–15 July, aircraft operating from the task force's aircraft carriers sank and damaged a large number of ships in ports along Hokkaidō's southern coastline as well as in northern Honshu. In addition, on 15 July a force of three battleships and two light cruisers bombarded the city of Muroran.[14] Before the Japanese surrender was formalized, the Soviet Union made preparations for an invasion of Hokkaidō, but U.S. President Harry Truman made it clear that the surrender of all of the Japanese home islands would be carried out by General Douglas MacArthur per the 1943 Cairo Declaration.[15]

    Present

    Hokkaidō became equal with other prefectures in 1947, when the revised Local Autonomy Law became effective. The Japanese central government established the Hokkaidō Development Agency (北海道開発庁, Hokkaidō Kaihatsuchō) as an agency of the Prime Minister's Office in 1949 to maintain its executive power in Hokkaidō. The agency was absorbed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in 2001. The Hokkaidō Bureau (北海道局, Hokkaidō-kyoku) and the Hokkaidō Regional Development Bureau (北海道開発局, Hokkaidō Kaihatsukyoku) of the ministry still have a strong influence on public construction projects in Hokkaidō.

    ^ "A Journey into the culture and history of Hokkaidō" (PDF). hkd.mlit.go.jp. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-09-17. Retrieved 2019-05-29. ^ a b Japan Handbook, p. 760 ^ McClain, James L. (2002). Japan, A Modern History (First ed.). New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-393-04156-9. ^ Howell, David. "Ainu Ethnicity and the Boundaries of the Early Modern Japanese State", Past and Present 142 (February 1994), p. 142 ^ Ossenberg, Nancy (see reference) has the best evidence of this relationship with the Jōmon. Also, a newer study, Ossenberg, et al., "Ethnogenesis and craniofacial change in Japan from the perspective of nonmetric traits" (Anthropological Science v.114:99–115) is an updated analysis published in 2006 which confirms this finding. ^ Harrison, John A. (1951). "The Capron Mission and the Colonization of Hokkaido, 1868-1875". Agricultural History. 25 (3): 135–136. JSTOR 3740831. ^ Nakamura, Akemi, "Japan's last frontier took time to tame, cultivate image Archived 2013-11-04 at the Wayback Machine", The Japan Times, 8 July 2008, p. 3. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference apjjf.org was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Cite error: The named reference nussbaum343 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Satow, Ernest. (1882). "The Geography of Japan" in Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Vols. 1–2, p. 88., p. 33, at Google Books ^ a b c d e Harrison, John A. (1951). "The Capron Mission and the Colonization of Hokkaido, 1868-1875". Agricultural History. 25 (3): 135–142. JSTOR 3740831. ^ McDougall, Walter A. (1993). Let the Sea Make a Noise, pp. 355–356. ^ McDougall, p. 357. ^ "Chapter VII: 1945". The Official Chronology of the US Navy in World War II. Hyperwar. Archived from the original on 2 October 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2011. ^ "Translation of Message from Harry S. Truman to Joseph Stalin", August 19, 1945, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGASPI Fond 558, Opis 11, Delo 372, Listy 112–113. Translated by Sergey Radchenko. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122333 Archived 2017-09-22 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2017 September 22.
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Stay safe
  •  
    Stay safe
     
     
    Road in rural Hokkaido. Note overhanging arrows marking road edge

    Hokkaido has the worst fatality rate for traffic accidents in Japan. Hokkaido is one of Japan's most spread-out areas, well-known for its wide-open roads. Locals drive at least 20 km/h over the posted limits in many areas. It's not unusual to see cars traveling at over 100 km/h on regular highways (the posted limit is 60 km/h). Head-on collisions at these speeds, especially with minicars, are catastrophic.

    Hokkaido has many country farm roads which are narrow, poorly marked, and arrow-straight. These often run parallel to highways and tend to be much less crowded. It's not unusual for locals to exceed 100 km/h on these roads. Missing a stop sign can be fatal, and signs may be hard to spot. Be careful of farm vehicles backing out of sheds with no warning, and especially careful of bicycles in the summer, as there are no shoulders.

    ...Read more
     
    Stay safe
     
     
    Road in rural Hokkaido. Note overhanging arrows marking road edge

    Hokkaido has the worst fatality rate for traffic accidents in Japan. Hokkaido is one of Japan's most spread-out areas, well-known for its wide-open roads. Locals drive at least 20 km/h over the posted limits in many areas. It's not unusual to see cars traveling at over 100 km/h on regular highways (the posted limit is 60 km/h). Head-on collisions at these speeds, especially with minicars, are catastrophic.

    Hokkaido has many country farm roads which are narrow, poorly marked, and arrow-straight. These often run parallel to highways and tend to be much less crowded. It's not unusual for locals to exceed 100 km/h on these roads. Missing a stop sign can be fatal, and signs may be hard to spot. Be careful of farm vehicles backing out of sheds with no warning, and especially careful of bicycles in the summer, as there are no shoulders.

     
     
    Roadside grit bin in rural Hokkaido for use of locals in winter. These aren't always functional.

    Winter driving in Hokkaido is not for the faint of heart. Very little sand or salt is used on the roads, and the heavy snow in many areas means that the roadways turn into packed snow, then solid ice. This also means that the road markings will be totally invisible. Look for overhanging center line (中央線 chūosen) signs above the roads at intersections. Highways have arrow signs pointing downward at the shoulders of the road, which will also be invisible. Winter tires are mandatory. Chains are recommended for mountain driving. Because speeds are lower, there are less fatalities, but there are more accidents in the winter. If you have never driven in the winter, do not attempt to learn here.

    The Hokkaido brown bear (scientific name: エゾヒグマ ezohiguma, colloquially usually higuma), sacred to the Ainu, is Hokkaido's most famous predator. An estimated 10,000 still roam the island, but they're shy, reclusive creatures and you're highly unlikely to encounter one outside remote areas like Shiretoko National Park. Many Japanese hikers carry bear bells (熊鈴 kumasuzu). If camping in the wild, don't store any food in your tent.

    The Hokkaido fox carries the echinococcus parasite, which can be fatal in humans. Because this parasite can be spread through water, do not drink any unboiled river or lake water in Hokkaido. Approaching or feeding foxes is also not recommended. (Feeding wildlife is also illegal.)

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