Hokkaido (literally “Northern Sea Circuit”)is the second largest least developed and northernmost of Japan’s four main islands. Sapporo is its capital which is the largest city on it. Its weather is hard in winter with lots of snowfall, frozen seas and below zero temperatures, while in summer it does not get as humid and hot as in the other parts of the country.

Hokkaido map
Hokkaido map


Hokkaido was settled by the Nivkh,  Orok and Ainu before recorded history. The Nihon Shoki finished in 720, is often said to be the first mention of Hokkaido in recorded history. According to the text, Abe no Hirafu led a large army and navy to northern areas from 658 to 660 and came into contact with the Emishi and Mishihase. One of the places Hirafu went to was called Watarishima, which is believed to be Hokkaido in the present day. However, many theories exist in relation to the details of this event, including the location of Watarishima and the general belief that the Emishi in Watarishima were the ancestors of the present day Ainu people.


the Japanese created a settlement at the south of the Oshima Peninsula During the Muromachi period (1336–1573). As more people moved to the settlement to avoid the critical battles, disputes arose between the Ainu and the Japanese. The disputes eventually developed into a war. The Ainu leader was killed by Takeda Nobuhiro, he defeated the opposition in 1457.

Winter in Hokkaido
Winter in Hokkaido


Naming of Hokkaido

After establishing the Development Commission, the Meiji Government decided to change the name of Ezochi. Matsuura Takeshirō submitted six suggestions, including names such as Hokkaidō and Kaihokudo to the government. The government eventually decided to use the name Hokkaidō. The name was thought up because the Ainu called the region Kai. Many common peoples who had interactions with the ancestors of the Ainu called them and their islands(discuss – dubious) Qoy, Kuyi, Kuye or some similar name, which may have some connection to the early modern form Kai. The Kai element also strongly looks like the Sino-Japanese reading of the characters, Japanese kun’yomi (discuss – dubious), which have been used for over a many thousand years in Japan and China 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, affected by the Sino-Japanese reading of Kai, of the Nivkh exonym for the Ainu, namely IPA or Qoy.



                                               National parks  
Shiretoko National Park* 知床
Akan National Park 阿寒
Kushiro-shitsugen National Park 釧路湿原
Daisetsuzan National Park 大雪山
Shikotsu-Tōya National Park 支笏洞爺
Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park 利尻礼文サロベツ


Quasi-national parks (国定公園)
Abashiri Quasi-National Park 網走
Hidaka-sanmyaku Erimo Quasi-National Park 日高山脈襟裳
Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park ニセコ積丹小樽海岸
Ōnuma Quasi-National Park 大沼
Shokanbetsu-Teuri-Yagishiri Quasi-National Park 暑寒別天売焼尻


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