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, officially Hokkaidō Circuit Prefecture, is the second largest island of
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in the north toward the and in the south. Japan is a part of the , and spans of coveri ...

Japan
and comprises the largest and northernmost
prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...

prefecture
. The
Tsugaru Strait The is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two land masses. Some straits are not navigable, for e ...

Tsugaru Strait
separates Hokkaidō from
Honshu , historically called , is the largest and most populous main island of Japan. It is located south of Hokkaido, Hokkaidō across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Seto Inland Sea, Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu, Kyūshū acros ...
; the two islands are connected by the undersea railway
Seikan Tunnel The Seikan Tunnel ( ja, 青函トンネル, or , ), is a dual gauge A dual gauge railway is a track that allows the passage of trains of two different track gauges. It is sometimes called a "mixed gauge" track. A dual gauge track consists of t ...
. The largest city on Hokkaidō is its capital,
Sapporo is a city in Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat ...

Sapporo
, which is also its only ordinance-designated city.
Sakhalin Sakhalin ( or ; rus, Сахали́н, r=Sakhalín, p=səxɐˈlʲin; ja, 樺太 ''Karafuto'') is the northernmost island of the Japanese Archipelago, Japanese archipelago and the largest island of the Russian Federation. It is situated in the ...

Sakhalin
lies about 43 kilometers (26 mi) to the north of Hokkaidō, and to the east and northeast are the
Kuril Islands The Kuril Islands or Kurile Islands; Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , ...
, which are administered by
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly becau ...

Russia
, though the four most southerly are claimed by Japan. Hokkaidō was formerly known as ''Ezo'', ''Yezo'', ''Yeso'', or ''Yesso''.. (2005). "Hokkaidō" in


Etymology

When establishing the Development Commission, the Meiji government decided to change the name of Ezochi.
Matsuura Takeshirō was a Japanese explorer, cartographer, writer, painter, priest, and antiquarian. During the late Edo period The or is between 1603 and 1867 in the history of Japan, history of Japan, when Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate a ...
submitted six proposals, including names such as and , to the government. The government eventually decided to use the name Hokkaidō, but decided to write it as , as a compromise between and because of the similarity with names such as . According to Matsuura, the name was thought up because the Ainu called the region ''Kai''. The ''kai'' element also strongly resembles the
On'yomi are a set of logographic In a written language, a logogram or logograph is a written character that represents a word or morpheme. Chinese characters (pronounced ''hanzi'' in Mandarin, ''kanji'' in Japanese, ''hanja'' in Korean and ''Hán t ...
, or Sino-Japanese, reading of the characters (''on'yomi'' as カイ ''
kun'yomi are the adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. They are used alongside the Japanese language, Japanese syllabic scripts ''hiragana'' and ''katakana''. The Japanese term ''kanji'' for the Chinese c ...
'' as えみし which have been used for over a thousand years in China and Japan as the standard orthographic form to be used when referring to Ainu and related peoples; it is possible that Matsuura's ''kai'' was actually an alteration, influenced by the Sino-Japanese reading of ''Ka-i'', of the Nivkh
exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
for the Ainu, namely ''Qoy'' or . There is no known established
Ainu language Ainu ( ''Ainu-itak'') or more precisely Hokkaido Ainu, is a language spoken by a few elderly members of the Ainu people The Ainu or the Aynu ( ain, アィヌ, , ; ja, アイヌ, ; russian: Áйны, ), also known as the in historical Japan ...
word for the island of Hokkaidō. However, the Ainu people did have a name for all of their domain, which included Hokkaidō along with the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, and parts of northern Honshu, which was ''Aynu Mosir'' (), a name taken by the modern Ainu to refer to their traditional homeland. "Ainu Mosir" literally translates as "The Land Where People (the Ainu) Live", and it was traditionally used to be contrasted with ''Kamuy Mosir'', "The Land of the
Kamuy A ''kamuy'' ( ain, カムィ; ja, カムイ, kamui) is a spiritual or divine being in Ainu mythology The Ainu or the Aynu ( ain, アィヌ, , ; ja, アイヌ, ; russian: Áйны, ), also known as the in historical Japanese texts, are an Ea ...
(spirits)". In 1947, Hokkaidō became a full-fledged prefecture, but the ''-ken'' suffix was never added to its name, so the ''-dō'' suffix came to be understood to mean "prefecture". "Hokkai-do-ken" (literally "North Sea Province Prefecture") is, therefore, technically speaking, a redundant term, although it is occasionally used to differentiate the government from the island. The prefecture's government calls itself the "Hokkaidō Government" rather than the "Hokkaidō Prefectural Government".


History


Early history

During the Jomon period the local culture and the associated
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
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#REDIRECT Yayoi period The , started at the beginning of the Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. ...
people, and much of the island's population shifted away from hunting and gathering towards agriculture. The ''
Nihon Shoki The , sometimes translated as ''The Chronicles of Japan'', is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history The first human habitation in the Japanese archipelago has been traced to prehistoric times around 30,000 BCE. The Jōmon ...
'', finished in 720 AD, is often said to be the first mention of Hokkaidō in
recorded history Recorded history or written history is a historical narrative History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the History of writing ...
. According to the text,
Abe no Hirafu was a notable Japanese general of the Asuka period The was a period in the history of Japan The first human habitation in the Japanese archipelago has been traced to prehistoric times around 30,000 BCE. The Jōmon period, named after i ...
''Japan Handbook'', p. 760 led a large navy and army to northern areas from 658 to 660 and came into contact with the
Mishihase The , also read as Ashihase and Shukushin, were a people of ancient Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imp ...
and
Emishi The (also called and ), meaning the "Shrimp barbarians", constituted an ancient ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other ...
. One of the places Hirafu went to was called , 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 The Ainu or the Aynu ( ain, アィヌ, , ; ja, アイヌ, ; russian: Áйны, ), also known as the in historical Japanese texts, are an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal ...
. During the
Nara The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent agency A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a term that has different meanings in different jur ...
and
Heian period The is the last division of classical History of Japan, Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. It followed the Nara period, beginning when the 50th emperor, Emperor Kanmu, moved the capital of Japan to Heian-kyō (modern Kyoto). It is a pe ...
s (710–1185), people in Hokkaidō conducted trade with
Dewa Province was a province of Japan comprising modern-day Yamagata Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...
, an outpost of the Japanese central government. From the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of w ...
, the people in Hokkaidō began to be called
Ezo (also spelled Yezo or Yeso) is the Japanese term historically used to refer to the lands to the north of the Japanese island of . It included the northern Japanese island of , which changed its name from "Ezo" to "Hokkaidō" in 1869,. (2005)"Ezo" ...
. Hokkaidō subsequently became known as or . The Ezo mainly relied upon hunting and fishing and obtained rice and iron through trade with the Japanese.


Feudal Japan

During the Muromachi period (1336–1573), the Japanese created a settlement at the south of the
Oshima Peninsula Image:Oshima Peninsula.PNG, thumb The Oshima Peninsula (渡島 半島 ''Oshima-hantō'') is the southernmost part of Hokkaidō, the northernmost of the Japanese islands. Where the peninsula starts is open to interpretation. A more generous interpret ...
, 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
Takeda Nobuhiro
killed the Ainu leader, Koshamain, 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 period The or is the period between 1603 and 1867 in the of , when Japan was under the rule of the and the country's 300 regional '. Emerging from the chaos of the , the Edo period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, foreign ...
s (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. 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 The Northern Fujiwara (奥州藤原氏 ''Ōshū Fujiwara-shi'') were a Japanese noble family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marr ...
,
Akita clan The was a Japanese samurai clan of northern Honshū that claimed descent from Abe no Sadato of the Abe clan. The Akita clan was originally known as the . In the Kamakura period, they were installed in the Tsugaru District, Aomori, Tsugaru distric ...
) maintained only tenuous political and cultural ties to the imperial court and its proxies, the
Kamakura shogunate The was the feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concer ...
and
Ashikaga shogunate The , also known as the , was the feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was a combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defi ...
. 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 The (also called and ), meaning the "Shrimp barbarians", constituted an ancient ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other ...
military leaders who had been assimilated into Japanese society. The Matsumae clan were of
Yamato was originally the area around today's Sakurai City in Nara Prefecture of Japan, which became Yamato Province and by extension a name for the whole of Japan. Yamato is also the dynastic name of the ruling Imperial House of Japan. Japanese hist ...
descent like other ethnic
Japanese people are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include common s ...
, 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. 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. After the arrival of Adam Laxman in 1799–1821 and 1855–1858, the
Tokugawa shogunate The Tokugawa shogunate (, Japanese 徳川幕府 ''Tokugawa bakufu''), also known as the , was the military government {{Systems of government Military dictatorships A military government is generally any government A government is th ...

Tokugawa shogunate
took direct control over Hokkaidō in response to a perceived threat from
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly becau ...
. Leading up to the
Meiji Restoration#REDIRECT Meiji Restoration The , referred to at the time as the , and also known as the Meiji Renovation, Revolution, Reform, or Renewal, was a political event that restored practical imperial rule to Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. Although t ...
, 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. The shogunate made the plight of the Ainu slightly easier but did not change the overall form of rule.


Meiji Restoration

Hokkaidō was known as Ezochi until the Meiji Restoration. Shortly after the
Boshin War The , sometimes known as the Japanese Revolution, was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side m ...

Boshin War
in 1868, a group of Tokugawa loyalists led by
Enomoto Takeaki Viscount A viscount ( , for male) or viscountess (, for female) is a title used in certain European countries for a nobility, noble of varying status. In many countries a viscount, and its historical equivalents, was a non-hereditary, administ ...

Enomoto Takeaki
temporarily occupied the island (the
polity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resourc ...
is commonly but mistakenly known as the
Republic of Ezo The was a short-lived separatist state established in 1869 by a part of the former military of the Tokugawa shogunate on the island of Ezo, now known as Hokkaido, at the end of the ''Bakumatsu'' period in Japan. It is notable for being the fir ...
), but the rebellion was crushed in May 1869. Ezochi was subsequently put under control of , Hakodate Prefectural Government. When establishing the , the Meiji government introduced a new name. After 1869, the northern Japanese island was known as Hokkaidō; and regional subdivisions were established, including the provinces of Oshima, Shiribeshi, Iburi,
Ishikari is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be de ...
, Teshio,
Kitami is a Cities of Japan, city in Okhotsk Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the most populous city and the commercial center in the subprefecture, although the subprefecture capital is Abashiri, Hokkaido, Abashiri. Kitami is physically in th ...
, Hidaka, Tokachi,
Kushiro is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be de ...
, Nemuro and Chishima. The primary purpose of the Development Commission was to secure Hokkaidō before the Russians extended their control of the Far East beyond
Vladivostok Vladivostok ( rus, Владивосто́к, , a=Владивосток.ogg) is the largest city and the administrative centreAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term f ...

Vladivostok
.
Kuroda Kiyotaka Count Count (feminine: countess) is a historical title of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. ...

Kuroda Kiyotaka
was put in charge of the venture. His first step was to journey to the United States and recruit
Horace Capron Horace Capron (August 31, 1804 – February 22, 1885) was an American businessman and agriculturalist, a founder of Laurel, Maryland, a Union officer in the American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the Ame ...

Horace Capron
, President commissioner of agriculture. From 1871 to 1873 Capron bent his efforts to expounding Western agriculture and mining with mixed results. Capron, frustrated with obstacles to his efforts returned home in 1875. In 1876, arrived to found an . 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. 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. 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 , , and , 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 . 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 ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = "Anchors Aweigh" , mascot = , equipment = List of equipment of the United St ...
's
Task Force 38 The Fast Carrier Task Force (TF 38 when assigned to Third Fleet, TF 58 when assigned to Fifth Fleet), was the main striking force of the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") ...
. 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 . Before the
Japanese surrender upright=1.35, Representatives of the Empire of Japan stand aboard prior to signing of the Instrument of Surrender. The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced by Japanese Emperor Hirohito on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 19 ...
was formalized, the Soviet Union made preparations for an invasion of Hokkaidō, but U.S. President
Harry Truman Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884December 26, 1972) was the 33rd president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs th ...

Harry Truman
made it clear that the surrender of all of the Japanese home islands would be carried out by General
Douglas MacArthur , birth_date = , birth_place = Little Rock, Arkansas (The Little Rock, The "Little Rock") , government_type = council-manager government, Council-manager , leader_title = List of mayors of Lit ...

Douglas MacArthur
per the
1943 Cairo Declaration The Cairo Declaration was the outcome of the Cairo Conference Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , ) is the capital of Egypt and the List of largest cities in the Arab world, largest city in the Arab world. The Greater Cairo metropol ...
.


Present

Hokkaidō became equal with other prefectures in 1947, when the revised Local Autonomy Law became effective. The Japanese central government established the as an agency of the
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
'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. and the of the ministry still have a strong influence on public construction projects in Hokkaidō.


Geography

The island of Hokkaidō is located in the north of Japan, near
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly becau ...

Russia
(
Sakhalin Oblast Sakhalin Oblast ( rus, Сахали́нская о́бласть, r=Sahalínskaya óblast', p=səxɐˈlʲinskəjə ˈobləsʲtʲ) is a federal subject of Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a ...
). It has coastlines on the
Sea of Japan The Sea of Japan is the marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% ...

Sea of Japan
(to the west of the island), the
Sea of Okhotsk The Sea of Okhotsk ( rus, Охо́тское мо́ре, Okhótskoye móre ; ja, オホーツク海, Ohōtsuku-kai) is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of S ...
(to the north), and the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific Ocean
(to the east). The center of the island is mountainous, with
volcanic plateau A volcanic plateau is a plateau produced by volcanic activity. There are two main types: lava plateaus and pyroclastic plateaus. Lava plateau Lava plateaus are formed by highly fluid basaltic lava during numerous successive eruptions through nu ...
x. Hokkaidō has multiple plains such as the
Ishikari Plain is a Cities of Japan, city located in Ishikari Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. As of April 30, 2017, the city has an estimated population of 58,755, with 27,434 households, and a population density, density of 81 persons per km2. The total area ...
, Tokachi Plain , the Kushiro Plain (the largest wetland in Japan) and Sarobetsu Plain . Hokkaidō is which make it the second-largest island of Japan. The
Tsugaru Strait The is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two land masses. Some straits are not navigable, for e ...

Tsugaru Strait
separates Hokkaidō from Honshu (
Aomori Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan in the Tōhoku region The , Northeast region, or consists of the northeastern portion of Honshu , historically called , is the largest and most populous main island of Japan , image_flag ...
); La Pérouse Strait separates Hokkaidō from the island of
Sakhalin Sakhalin ( or ; rus, Сахали́н, r=Sakhalín, p=səxɐˈlʲin; ja, 樺太 ''Karafuto'') is the northernmost island of the Japanese Archipelago, Japanese archipelago and the largest island of the Russian Federation. It is situated in the ...

Sakhalin
in Russia;
Nemuro StraitNemuro Strait, also called Notsuke Strait and Kunashirsky Strait (russian: Кунаширский пролив), is a strait, located at , separating Kunashir Island of the Kuril Islands, Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or ...
separates Hokkaidō from
Kunashir Island ; ja, 国後島 , location = Sea of Okhotsk The Sea of Okhotsk ( rus, Охо́тское мо́ре, Okhótskoye móre ; ja, オホーツク海, Ohōtsuku-kai) is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the larg ...

Kunashir Island
in the Russian
Kuril Islands The Kuril Islands or Kurile Islands; Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , ...
. The of Hokkaidō incorporates several smaller islands, including ,
Okushiri Island is an island in Hokkaidō is the Japanese archipelago, second largest island of Japan and comprises the largest and northernmost Prefectures of Japan, prefecture. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu; the two islands are connected ...
, and Rebun. (By Japanese reckoning, Hokkaidō also incorporates several of the
Kuril Islands The Kuril Islands or Kurile Islands; Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , ...
.) Hokkaidō Prefecture is the largest and northernmost . The island ranks 21st in the world by area.


Population

Hokkaidō has the third-largest population of Japan's five main islands, with 5,383,579 people . It has the lowest population-density in Japan with just 64.5/km2 (160/sq mi) (2016). By population it ranks 20th globally. Major cities include
Sapporo is a city in Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat ...

Sapporo
and
Asahikawa is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be de ...
in the central region and the port of
Hakodate is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be ...

Hakodate
facing
Honshu , historically called , is the largest and most populous main island of Japan. It is located south of Hokkaido, Hokkaidō across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Seto Inland Sea, Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu, Kyūshū acros ...
in the south. Sapporo is the largest city of Hokkaidō and 5th-largest in Japan. It had a population of 1,957,914 and a population density of .


Flora and fauna

There are three populations of the
Ussuri brown bear The Ussuri brown bear (''Ursus arctos lasiotus''), also known as the Ezo brown bear and the black grizzly bear, is a subspecies In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and livi ...
found on the island. There are more brown bears in Hokkaidō than anywhere else in Asia besides Russia. The Hokkaidō brown bear is separated into three distinct lineages. There are only eight lineages in the world. Those on Honshu died out long ago. The native conifer species in northern Hokkaidō is the ''
Abies sachalinensis ''Abies sachalinensis'', the Sakhalin fir, is a species of conifer Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta () or Conifera ...
'' (sakhalin fir) The
hydrangea hirta ''Hydrangea hirta'', also known as the "nettle-leaved hydrangea", is an species of flowering plant in the family Hydrangeaceae that is native to East Asia. Due to the beauty and sturdiness of the species' flowers it can be found outside of its ran ...
species is also located on the island.


Geologic activity

Like many areas of Japan, Hokkaidō is seismically active. Aside from numerous
earthquake An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known ...

earthquake
s, the following volcanoes are considered still active (at least one eruption since 1850): *
Hokkaido Koma-ga-take , also , , or just is a andesite, andesitic stratovolcano on the border between Mori, Hokkaidō, Mori, Shikabe, Hokkaidō, Shikabe, and Nanae, Hokkaidō, Nanae, all within the Oshima Subprefecture of Hokkaidō, Japan. Occurrence of volcanic acti ...
* Mount Usu and Shōwa-shinzan * Mount Tarumae * Mount Tokachi (Daisetsuzan), Mount Tokachi * Mount Meakan In 1993 Okushiri earthquake, 1993, an earthquake of Moment magnitude scale, magnitude 7.7 generated a tsunami which devastated Okushiri, Hokkaido, Okushiri, killing 202 inhabitants. An 2003 Hokkaidō earthquake, earthquake of magnitude 8.3 struck near the island on September 26, 2003. On September 6, 2018, an 2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi earthquake, earthquake of magnitude 6.6 struck with its epicenter near the city of Tomakomai, causing a blackout across the whole island. On May 16, 2021, an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck off Japan's Hokkaidō prefecture.


Parks

File:Kottaro situgen 2009.jpg, Overview of Kushiro Wetland File:Lake Akan and Mount Oakan - 2005.jpg, Lake Akan and Mount Meakan File:Image-2008 Lake Masshu.jpg, View of Lake Mashū File:Lake Shikotsu17n4272.jpg, Lake Shikotsu File:Sounkyo1.jpg, Sōunkyō, a gorge in the Daisetsu-zan Volcanic Area * Twelve prefectural natural parks (道立自然公園). The prefectural natural parks cover 146,802 ha, the largest area of any prefecture. **Akkeshi Prefectural Natural Park **Esan Prefectural Natural Park **Furano-Ashibetsu Prefectural Natural Park **Hiyama Prefectural Natural Park **Kariba-Motta Prefectural Natural Park **Matsumae Yagoshi Prefectural Natural Park, Matsumae-Yagoshi Prefectural Natural Park **North Okhotsk Prefectural Natural Park **Nopporo Shinrin Kōen Prefectural Natural Park **Notsuke-Fūren Prefectural Natural Park **Sharidake Prefectural Natural Park **Shumarinai Prefectural Natural Park **Teshiodake Prefectural Natural Park


Subprefectures

As of April 2010, Hokkaidō has 9 General Subprefectural Bureaus (総合振興局) and 5 Subprefectural Bureaus (振興局). Hokkaidō is one of eight prefectures in Japan that have Subprefectures of Japan, subprefectures (支庁 ''shichō''). However, it is the only one of the eight to have such offices covering the whole of its territory outside the main cities (rather than having them just for outlying islands or remote areas). This is mostly because of its great size; many parts of the prefecture are simply too far away to be effectively administered by Sapporo. Subprefectural offices in Hokkaidō carry out many of the duties that prefectural offices fulfill elsewhere in Japan.


Municipalities

Hokkaidō is divided into 179 municipalities.


Cities

There are 35 cities in Hokkaidō:


Towns and villages

These are the towns and villages in Hokkaido Prefecture:


Climate

As Japan's coldest region, Hokkaidō has relatively cool summers and icy/snowy winters. Most of the island falls in the humid continental climate zone with Köppen climate classification ''Dfb'' (hemiboreal) in most areas but ''Dfa'' (hot summer humid continental) in some inland lowlands. The average August temperature ranges from , while the average January temperature ranges from , in both cases depending on elevation and distance from the ocean, though temperatures on the western side of the island tend to be a little warmer than on the eastern. The highest temperature ever recorded is on 26 May 2019. The northern portion of Hokkaidō falls into the taiga biome with significant snowfall. Snowfall varies widely from as much as on the mountains adjacent to the Sea of Japan down to around on the Pacific coast. The island tends to have isolated snowstorms that develop long-lasting snowbanks. Total precipitation varies from on the mountains of the Sea of Japan coast to around (the lowest in Japan) on the Sea of Okhotsk coast and interior lowlands and up to around on the Pacific side. The generally high quality of powder snow and numerous mountains in Hokkaidō make it a popular region for snow sports. The snowfall usually commences in earnest in November and ski resorts (such as those at Niseko, Furano, Teine and Rusutsu) usually operate between December and April. Hokkaidō celebrates its winter weather at the Sapporo Snow Festival. During the winter, passage through the
Sea of Okhotsk The Sea of Okhotsk ( rus, Охо́тское мо́ре, Okhótskoye móre ; ja, オホーツク海, Ohōtsuku-kai) is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of S ...
is often complicated by large floes of drift ice. Combined with high winds that occur during winter, this frequently brings air travel and maritime activity to a halt beyond the northern coast of Hokkaidō. Ports on the open Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan are generally ice-free year round, though most rivers freeze during the winter. Unlike the other major islands of Japan, Hokkaidō is normally not affected by the June–July Wet season, rainy season and the relative lack of humidity and typically warm, rather than hot, summer weather makes its climate an attraction for tourists from other parts of Japan.


Major cities and towns

Hokkaidō's largest city is the capital,
Sapporo is a city in Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat ...

Sapporo
, which is a designated city. The island has two core cities: Hakodate, Hokkaido, Hakodate in the south and Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Asahikawa in the central region. Other important population centers include Rumoi, Hokkaido, Rumoi, Iwamizawa, Hokkaido, Iwamizawa, Kushiro, Hokkaido, Kushiro, Obihiro, Hokkaido, Obihiro, Kitami, Hokkaido, Kitami, Abashiri, Hokkaido, Abashiri, Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Wakkanai, and Nemuro, Hokkaido, Nemuro.


Gallery

File:4 Chome Sakaigawa, Chūō-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaidō 064-0943, Japan - panoramio.jpg, Sapporo, Sapporo City File:Asahibashi Bridge and Mt. Daisetsuzan Range.jpg, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Asahikawa File:Cityscapes of Hakodate Hokkaido pref Japan01n.jpg, Hakodate, Hokkaido, Hakodate File:Nusamai-Bridge.jpg, Kushiro, Hokkaido, Kushiro File:ObihiroMainSummer.jpg, Obihiro, Hokkaido, Obihiro File:春光町から北見市中心部方向 - panoramio.jpg, Kitami, Hokkaido, Kitami File:Hokkaido-prefectural-road R6 central-Iwamizawa.JPG, Iwamizawa, Hokkaido, Iwamizawa File:Abashiri River09n.jpg, Abashiri, Hokkaido, Abashiri File:Wakkanai station001.JPG, Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Wakkanai File:Hokkaido pref road No35 Nosappu Cape.jpg, Nemuro, Hokkaido, Nemuro File:Rumoi city nightview.JPG, Rumoi, Hokkaido, Rumoi


Economy

Although there is some light industry (most notably paper milling and beer brewing) most of the population is employed by the service sector. In 2001, the service sector and other tertiary industries generated more than three-quarters of the gross domestic product. Agriculture and other primary industries play a large role in Hokkaidō's economy. Hokkaidō has nearly one fourth of Japan's total arable land. It ranks first in the nation in the production of a host of agricultural products, including wheat, soybeans, potatoes, sugar beets, onions, pumpkins, corn, raw milk, and beef. Hokkaidō also accounts for 22% of Japan's forests with a sizable timber industry. The prefecture is first in the nation in production of marine products and aquaculture. The average farm size in Hokkaidō is 26 hectares per farmer in 2013, which is almost 11 times bigger than the national average of 2.4 hectares. Tourism is an important industry, especially during the cool summertime when visitors are attracted to Hokkaidō's open spaces from hotter and more humid parts of Japan and other Asian countries. During the winter, skiing and other winter sports bring other tourists, and increasingly international ones, to the island. Coal mining played an important role in the industrial development of Hokkaidō, with the Ishikari coalfield. Cities such as Muroran were primarily developed to supply the rest of the archipelago with coal.


Transportation

Hokkaidō's only land link to the rest of Japan is the
Seikan Tunnel The Seikan Tunnel ( ja, 青函トンネル, or , ), is a dual gauge A dual gauge railway is a track that allows the passage of trains of two different track gauges. It is sometimes called a "mixed gauge" track. A dual gauge track consists of t ...
. Most travellers travel to the island by air: the main airport is New Chitose Airport at Chitose, Hokkaido, Chitose, just south of Sapporo. Tokyo–Chitose is in the top 10 of the List of busiest passenger air routes, world's busiest air routes, handling more than 40 widebody round trips on several airlines each day. One of the airlines, Air Do was named after Hokkaidō. Hokkaidō can be reached by ferry from Sendai, Niigata, Niigata, Niigata and some other cities, with the ferries from Tokyo dealing only in cargo. The Hokkaido Shinkansen takes passengers from Tokyo to near Hakodate in slightly over four hours. There is a fairly well-developed Hokkaido Railway Company, railway network, but many cities can only be accessed by road. The coal railways were constructed around Sapporo and Horonai during the late 19th century, as advised by American engineer Joseph Crawford. Hokkaidō is home to one of Japan's Musical road#Melody Road, Melody Roads, which is made from grooves cut into the ground, which when driven over causes a tactile vibration and audible rumbling transmitted through the wheels into the car body.


Education

The Hokkaido Prefectural Board of Education oversees public schools (except colleges and universities) in Hokkaidō. Public elementary and junior high schools (except Hokkaido Noboribetsu Akebi Secondary School and schools attached to Hokkaidō University of Education) are operated by municipalities, and public high schools are operated by either the prefectural board or municipalities. Hokkaidō has 37 universities (7 national, 5 local public, and 25 private universities), 34 junior colleges, and 5 Colleges of technology in Japan, colleges of technology (4 national and 1 local public colleges). National universities located in Hokkaidō are: * Hokkaido University (former Sapporo Agricultural College) * Hokkaido University of Education * Muroran Institute of Technology * Otaru University of Commerce * Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine * Asahikawa Medical University * Kitami Institute of Technology Hokkaidō government runs Sapporo Medical University, a medical school in Sapporo.


Culture

* Ramen#Regional variations, Sapporo ramen, Jingisukan * Hokkaidō Heritage * Hokkaido Museum * Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples * Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art * Historical Village of Hokkaido * Hokkaido Archaeological Operations Center * Pacific Music Festival


Sports

The 1972 Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo. The sports teams listed below are based in Hokkaidō. *Hokkaido American Football Association *Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, Consadole Sapporo (Association football) *Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters *Levanga Hokkaido (basketball) *Japan Basketball League *Nippon Paper Cranes (Ice hockey) *Oji Eagles (Ice hockey) *Loco Solare (Curling)


Winter festivals

* Sapporo Snow Festival * Asahikawa Ice Festival * Sōunkyō Ice Festival * Big Air – snowboarding freestyle competition * Shōwa-Shinzan International Yukigassen - competitive snowballing


International relations

Hokkaidō has Twin towns and sister cities, relationships with several provinces, states, and other entities worldwide. * Alberta, Canada, since 1980 * Heilongjiang, China, since 1980 * Massachusetts, USA, since 1988 *
Sakhalin Oblast Sakhalin Oblast ( rus, Сахали́нская о́бласть, r=Sahalínskaya óblast', p=səxɐˈlʲinskəjə ˈobləsʲtʲ) is a federal subject of Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a ...
, Russia, since 1998 * Busan, South Korea, since 2005 * South Gyeongsang Province, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, since 2006 * Seoul, South Korea, since 2010 * Chiang Mai Province, Chiang Mai, Thailand, since 2013 * Thimphu, Bhutan * Hawai'i State, Hawai'i, United States of America As of January 2014, 74 individual municipalities in Hokkaidō have sister city agreements with 114 cities in 21 different countries worldwide.


Politics


Governor

The current List of governors of Hokkaido Prefecture, governor of Hokkaido is Naomichi Suzuki. He won the governorship in the 2019 Hokkaidō gubernatorial election, gubernatorial election in 2019 as an independent. In 1999, Hori was supported by all major non-Communist parties and Itō ran without party support. Before 1983, the governorship had been held by Liberal Democrats Naohiro Dōgakinai and Kingo Machimura for 24 years. In the 1971 election when Machimura retired, the Socialist candidate Shōhei Tsukada lost to Dōgakinai by only 13,000 votes; Tsukada was also supported by the Communist Party – the leftist cooperation in opposition to the US-Japanese security treaty had brought joint Socialist-Communist candidates to victory in many other prefectural and local elections in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1959, Machimura had defeated Yokomichi's father Setsuo in the race to succeed Hokkaidō's first elected governor, Socialist Toshibumi Tanaka who retired after three terms. Tanaka had only won the governorship in 1947 in a run-off election against Democratic Party (Japan, 1947), Democrat Eiji Arima because no candidate had received the necessary vote share to win in the first round as required by law at the time.


Assembly

The Hokkaido Legislative Assembly has 100 members from 47 electoral districts. As of April 30, 2015, the LDP caucus holds a majority with 51 seats, the Democratic Party (Japan, 1998), DPJ-led group has 26 members. Other groups are the ''Hokkaidō Yūshikai'' of New Party Daichi and independents with twelve seats, Kōmeitō with eight, and the Japanese Communist Party with four members.Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly
Members by electoral district and parliamentary group
General elections for the Hokkaido assembly are currently held together with gubernatorial elections in the unified local elections (last round: 2015 Japanese unified local elections, April 2015).


Hokkaido's Diet electoral districts, National representation

For the lower house of the National Diet, Hokkaidō is divided into twelve single-member electoral districts. In the 2017 Japanese general election, 2017 election, candidates from the governing coalition of Liberal Democratic Party (Japan), Liberal Democrats and Kōmeitō won seven districts and the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Constitutional Democrats five. For the proportional election segment, Hokkaidō and Tokyo are the only two prefectures that form a regional "block" district of their own. The Hokkaido proportional representation block elects eight Representatives. In 2017, the Liberal Democratic Party received 28.8% of the proportional vote and won three seats, the Constitutional Democratic Party won three (26.4% of the vote), one seat each went to Kibō no Tō (12.3%) and Kōmeitō (11.0%). The Japanese Communist Party, who won a seat in 2014 Japanese general election, 2014, lost their seat in 2017 while receiving 8.5% of the votes. In the upper house of the National Diet, a major reapportionment in the 1990s halved the number of Councillors from Hokkaidō per election from four to two. After the elections of 2010 and 2013, the Hokkaido At-large district, Hokkaido electoral district – like most two-member districts for the upper house – is represented by two Liberal Democrats and two Democrats. In the 2016 Japanese House of Councillors election, 2016 upper house election, the district magnitude will be raised to three, Hokkaidō will then temporarily be represented by five members and six after the 2019 Japanese House of Councillors election, 2019 election.


See also

* Former Hokkaidō Government Office * Hokkaido dialects * :People from Hokkaido, People from Hokkaido * Sankebetsu brown bear incident * Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Sinnoh, a fictional region in the Pokémon franchise which is based on Hokkaido.


Notes

Source: English edition of Sightseeing in Hokkaido, Winter Festival and Events


References

* Bisignani, J. D. (1993). ''Japan Handbook.'' Chico, California: Moon Publications. ;
OCLC 8954556
* McDougall, Walter A. (1993). ''Let the Sea Make a Noise: A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur.'' New York: Basic Books.
OCLC 28017793
* Louis-Frédéric, Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric and Käthe Roth. (2005)
''Japan encyclopedia.''
Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
OCLC 58053128
*


External links


Hokkaido Official Website




(In English)
Hokkaido Ski Resort
{{coord, 43, N, 142, E, scale:2500000, display=title Hokkaido, Prefectures of Japan Hokkaido region, Ainu geography Japanese archipelago