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The Conquest of Ainu Lands

The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion,1590-1800

Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: 1
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    The Conquest of Ainu Lands
    Book Description:

    This model monograph is the first scholarly study to put the Ainu—the native people living in Ezo, the northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago—at the center of an exploration of Japanese expansion during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the height of the Tokugawa shogunal era. Inspired by "new Western" historians of the United States, Walker positions Ezo not as Japan's northern "frontier" but as a borderland or middle ground. By framing his study between the cultural and ecological worlds of the Ainu before and after two centuries of sustained contact with the Japanese, the author demonstrates with great clarity just how far the Ainu were incorporated into the Japanese political economy and just how much their ceremonial and material life—not to mention disease ecology, medical culture, and their physical environment—had been infiltrated by Japanese cultural artifacts, practices, and epidemiology by the early nineteenth century. Walker takes a fresh and original approach. Rather than presenting a mere juxtaposition of oppression and resistance, he offers a subtle analysis of how material and ecological changes induced by trade with Japan set in motion a reorientation of the whole northern culture and landscape. Using new and little-known material from archives as well as Ainu oral traditions and archaeology, Walker poses an exciting new set of questions and issues that have yet to be approached in so innovative and thorough a fashion.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93299-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    In the course of Japan’s long history, its borders and its ethnic configuration have undergone some surprisingly dramatic changes. Illustrating this point, maps drawn before the mid–nineteenth century identify Mutsu and Dewa provinces, on the main island of Honshu, as the northernmost territories of the Japanese. These maps are missing the island now known as Hokkaido, “Northern Sea Circuit,” a resource-rich, spacious piece of land that constitutes about 21 percent of the total land of Japan today.¹ Some seventeenth-century maps, such as the detailed 1644Shōhō Nihon sōzu[Shōhō map of greater Japan], do crudely outline a northern, amoeba-shaped...

  6. 1 The Consolidation of the Early-Modern Japanese State in the North
    (pp. 17-47)

    In the late eighteenth century, when geographer Furukawa Koshōken crossed over from Hirosaki domain and arrived in the Matsumae castle town for the first time, he was struck by how much certain aspects of Fukuyama resembled Kyoto. The nicely kept homes, with beautiful flowers arranged in the front gardens, evoked in Furukawa’s mind the ancient capital along the Kamo River.¹ Not only the environment in the Matsumae castle town but also the political culture inside Fukuyama Castle itself was transformed in the late sixteenth century by trends emanating from Kyoto. This chapter traces these trends and the extension of the...

  7. 2 Shakushain’s War
    (pp. 48-72)

    In 1675, on the North American continent, an extremely bloody conflict broke out between New England settlers and a Wampanoag leader named King Philip. After settlers hanged three men loyal to King Philip, the Wampanoag chief attacked his enemies, sparking what Jill LePore refers to as not only one of “the most fatal wars in all of American history but also one of the most merciless.”¹ LePore concludes her study of this conflict by suggesting that the “story of King Philip’s War . . . is the story of how the English colonists became Americans.” It is a story of...

  8. 3 The Ecology of Ainu Autonomy and Dependence
    (pp. 73-98)

    We have seen that trade and other forms of contact with Japanese sparked the changes in Ainu society that provided the dangerous kindling for the outbreak of Shakushain’s War. Powerful chiefdoms such as the Hae and Shibuchari, who shared a common border along the upper section of the Shibuchari River, fought sporadically over access to animals for subsistence, ritual, and trade. In the midst of the fighting, Matsumae generals understood that their trade embargo in Ezo remained the single most effective means to bring the defiant Shakushain to his knees; and as reported by Maki Tadaemon, the embargo had left...

  9. 4 Symbolism and Environment in Trade
    (pp. 99-127)

    In the late eighteenth century, Kushihara Seihō told the story of a Sōya Ainu named Itakui and a Yūbetsu Ainu named Hakiritsu who were on their way to their temporary hut when Itakui happened to ask about Hakiritsu’s parents. As a rule, Kushihara explained, Ainu avoided asking about family, and as it happened, one of Hakiritsu’s parents had only recently passed away. In accordance with Ainu custom, Itakui was now obliged to give Hakiritsu a compensatory gift (tsugunai) for having intruded on his privacy. Itakui promptly went to the nearest trading post with five hundred dried sea cucumber and traded...

    (pp. 128-154)

    Interaction with the peoples of the Eurasian continent played a crucial role in the creation of the multiethnic and multicultural character of the peoples of Ezo even as far back as the proto-Ainu groups, such as the Satsumon and the Okhotsk, mentioned in chapter 1. This pattern continued into the early-modern period, involved Sakhalin, but later—following Shakushain’s War and the construction of trading posts in Ezochi—the Sakhalin relationship to the continent changed, and many communities found themselves navigating new commercial terrain. Fukuyama Castle and later the Edo shogunate conditioned Sakhalin hunting, fishing, and plant-gathering activities to fit the...

    (pp. 155-176)

    From long before 1600, as we have seen, outside groups influenced many aspects of Ainu life, from their cultural order to their subsistence practice. This influence trickled in not only from the Eurasian continent, Sakhalin, and Japan but also from the Kuril Archipelago, from such peoples as the Aleuts, the Kamchadal, the Kuril Ainu, and by the early eighteenth century, the Russians. However, Matsumae trading posts in eastern Ezo, where the Kuril influence was most visible, gradually changed the relationship between the Ainu and trade networks that reached them via the Kurils, just as trading posts had changed the commercial...

  12. 7 Epidemic Disease, Medicine, and the Shifting Ecology of Ezo
    (pp. 177-203)

    Commenting on epidemic diseases and the medical condition of the Ainu in the eighteenth century, Mogami Tokunai noted that there was a lack of medicine and medical care in Ezo and that no attempts were made to comfort infected Ainu or prevent the spread of contagions from village to village, which forced many Ainu to live like animals.

    He wrote, Essentially, like Japanese, Ainu are a kind of human, and so like Japanese they also get sick. Because they are without medicine, if a smallpox [hōsō] epidemic breaks out, they fear the disease spreading, [and] deserting their homes, they evade...

  13. 8 The Role of Ceremony in Conquest
    (pp. 204-226)

    Following Shakushain’s War in 1669, Fukuyama Castle, through yearly audiences and ceremonies, sought to establish a tradition of Ainu subservience and, subsequently, to create a precedent for Matsumae rule in Ezo by polarizing Ainu-Japanese relations according to the Confucianbased dichotomy that pitted the “civilized center” against the “barbarian edge” (ka’i chitsujo). In a manner typical of the Tokugawa approach to foreign relations, Matsumae officials highlighted, or even manufactured, the barbarian features of the Ainu, emphasizing their exotic customs (fūzoku) and then contrasting these to the civilized customs of the Japanese. These differences in customs, particularly in Ezo, where the Wajinchi-...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 227-236)

    In 1802, after nearly two centuries of regional oversight by the Matsumae family, the shogunate established the Hakodate magistracy (bugyō), a colonial office of sorts; and the affairs of Ezo were administered by the political core in Edo. Although the Matsumae family was again put in charge of Ezo between 1821 and 1854, its days of unrestricted trade with Ainu were effectively over in 1802. Importantly, at this juncture, to the degree that such historical boundaries remain useful, the administration of Ezo departed from its previous “early-modern” form, characterized by domainal administration and strictly feudal economic decision making, to a...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 237-274)
  16. Works Cited
    (pp. 275-298)
  17. Index
    (pp. 299-332)