6. Nov 2022 | History

Hokkaido Trivia – What Makes Hokkaido “Unique”?

Among all the 47 prefectures in Japan, Hokkaido is the only prefecture that went through pioneering and cultivation after the Restoration (end of feudalism – modernization or westernization, so to speak) by the new government in the late 19th century.  At that time, Hokkaido was mostly a land of untouched nature.

When Japan decided to modernize under the Restoration, one of the country’s priority was to protect herself from Russia.  Thousands of prisoners were brought to Hokkaido as the labor force to build the “military road” (which still functions as the main route that runs from west to east).  Not only common people, but monks and even former samurai who lost their source of income after the Restoration immigrated to Hokkaido as pioneers.  These people brought to Hokkaido their local culture and dialect, which met the indigenous Ainu culture and became of the base of today’s Hokkaido.

So, people in Hokkaido, whose ancestors of just a couple of generations back immigrated with hopes for new life, have the “pioneer spirit” that welcomes in outsiders and new ideas. 

My wish is that travelers can have the opportunity to feel the Hokkaido spirit through their activities and their encounters with the locals!

“Nebuta” Festival was brought to Shari in northeast Hokkaido
by the immigrants from Aomori prefecture.
This is one of the floats that parade in the festival.