Hokkaido Island


. Regional Festivals - From Hokkaido to Okinawa .


Hokkaido - 北海道,

literally "Northern Sea Circuit",
formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso,
is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel. The largest city on Hokkaido is its capital, Sapporo, which is also its only ordinance-designated city.

© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. Hokkaido - Entries of this BLOG .


Ainu Bear Festival (Kumamatsuri)

Ashiri Cheppu Nomi

Furano Belly Button Festival, Hokkaido Belly Button Festival, Hokkai Heso

Iomante Ainu Festival

Kotan Festival (Asahikawa)
..... Sapporo Pirka Kotan
..... Shiraoi Poroto Kotan
..... Lake Akan-ko Ainu Kotan

Okadama Shishimai Sapporo

Onishika Matsumae Kagura

. Sapporo yukimatsuri 札幌雪まつり(さっぽろゆきまつり)
Sapporo snow festival .

Yukar Ainu Festival


External LINKS :

- Ainu Festivals

- Reference -


Oku Ezo 奥蝦夷 Hokkaido

- - - - - Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 - - - - -

oku ezo ya buppoo wataru hana mo saku

spreading as far
as Hokkaido...
Buddha's law and blossoms

Ezo refers to the Ainu people.
"Deep Ezo" (oku ezo) comprises the island of Hokkaido and other islands to the north; see Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 241. Issa is celebrating Buddhism's spread all the way to the northern "barbarian" islands.
Shinji Ogawa adds more information:
"In 1779, the Japanese government started to govern the Ezo province, Hokkaido, which was inhabited by the Ainu race. The occasional contacts with Russian ships alerted the Japanese government, the Edo bakufu, of the potential threat from Russia. In 1802, a Russian envoy visited Japan, and, in the same year, the Edo bakufu opened an office in Hakodate in Hokkaido. In 1807, the government declared that the whole Ezo province belonged directly to Japan.
This haiku (of 1812) reflects this history."

hito no fuku kiri mo kasumu ya ezo ga shima

from people's mouths, too
mist in clouds...

edo kaze o fukasete yuku ya ezo ga shima

making the wind blow
in Edo...

mihotoke ya ezo ga shima e mo o-tanjoo

all the way to Hokkaido
your birthday party!

Tr. David Lanoue


kite mireba kochira ga oni nari Ezo ga Shima

arriving I realize
I myself am the demon -
Island of Ezo

Tr. Gabi Greve


mi-hotoke ya ezo-ga-shima e mo go-tanjou

revered Buddha,
your birth honored
on far Ainu Island

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the 5th month (June) of 1811, when Issa was living in Edo. Since the ancient period, the Yamato people had carried out military campaigns against the indigenous Ainu people, gradually conquering them and extending their rule to the northern tip of Honshu, the largest Japanese island. A few non-military settlements of Japanese were also established in the medieval period on the southern shore of Ainu Island (what is now called, in the language of the eventual conquerors, Hokkaido), and the first small Buddhist temple was built there in the early 15th century. These trading and fishing settlements grew, along with friction with the local Ainu, who sometimes staged small uprisings against the Japanese. In 1590 the Matsumae domain was formally recognized on the southernmost peninsula of Ainu Island, and the shogunate put the domain in charge of trading and fishing in the area.

Trouble with the Ainu, whose land was being encroached on, continued, and in Issa's time several Russian traders and missions visited the domain, demanding economic and diplomatic relations with Japan, though the shogunate refused. Some Ainu converted to Buddhism, but the majority maintained their traditional shamanic religion. Issa is obviously aware of the spread of Buddhism on Ainu Island, perhaps because it was a topic among Buddhists at the time. In the year after this hokku was written, Zenkoji Temple, near Issa's hometown, sent its statue of Amida with two bodhisattvas to the Matsumae domain for viewing by believers there.

The tone of the hokku is reverent, and Issa seems to be amazed that Buddhism has spread even to the great island just to the north of Japan. Issa evokes the ceremonies on lunar 4/8, the traditional Mahayana date for the birth of Sakyamuni Buddha, when sweet tea is poured over a statue of the baby Buddha placed in a great bowl under a tiny roofed pavilion covered with flowers. Issa may be using this image to suggest that Buddhism itself is at last being born on Ainu Island in a major way.

The optimism expressed in this hokku was at other times tempered by Issa's apparent awareness of the dangers to Ainu culture and life posed by the expansion of Japanese settlers and soldiers onto the last big island where Ainu could live without outside interference. In this 1822 hokku Issa evokes the many unethical Japanese traders who went to the Matsumae domain to get rich:

akindo ya uso o utsushi ni ezo-ga-shima

traders infect
people with lies
on Ainu Island

Issa has learned that infectious diseases spread by contact with the Japanese were seriously reducing the population of Ainu on Ainu Island, and he seems to have realized that the Ainu way of life itself was in great danger, as in this hokku, also from 1822:

kite mireba kochira ga oni nari ezo-ga-shima

when I arrived
I found I was a demon --
Ainu Island

The implied "I" here does not refer to Issa but to any clear-eyed, objective Japanese visitor to Ainu Island, and the hokku is uncannily prescient in foreseeing the fate of the Ainu people who, especially after modernization began, were treated in much the same way Native Americans were in the US and elsewhere.

Chris Drake

. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

Related words

. Regional Folk Toys from Japan - GANGU . 

. Regional Dishes from Japan - WASHOKU .

BACK : Top of this Saijiki


1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

Akan Marimo Matsuri
Akan Marimo Festival

on the shores of Lake Akan, Kushiro.