Episode 372 – The First Frontier, Part 2

This week: how did the threat of Western imperialism change the relationship between mainland Japan and Hokkaido, and help set the stage for Japan’s eventual colonization of the island?


Walker, Brett L. “The Early Modern Japanese State and Ainu Vaccinations: Redefining the Body Politic 1799-1868.” Past and Present No 163 (May, 1999).

Carter, Rachel Carson. “Whaling at the Margins.” RCC Perspectives 5 (2019)

Walker, Brett L. The Conquest of Ainu Lands; Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion, 1590-1800.


An American-made map of Hakodate from 1854. You can see just how small the settlement was (particularly if you compare it to a modern map.
The Hakodate Bugyosho (magistrate’s office) in the winter of 1868.
An Ainu family in the 1860s. Tokugawa policy during the final decades of the bakufu was dedicated towards trying to show “compassion” to the Ainu to get their support in asserting Japanese control over Hokkaido.
An aerial panorama of Goryokaku today. You can really see the defensive setup, though today the fortifications are overtaken by greenery (seriously, it’s a beautiful park).
A woodblock print of the battle of Hakodate (1869). Though the Battle was fairly short, it demonstrated the importance of further attempts to secure the island, given that such a ragtag band of samurai had managed to seize it in the first place.