Peripheral Visions: Reimagining Colonial Hokkaido
  • Michele M. Mason


Today, Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, takes hold in the Japanese imagination in a number of telling ways. It is a popular summer tourist destination renowned for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. Every winter, crowds clamor to view the massive ice sculptures of architectural wonders and popular cartoon and fairytale characters in the Sapporo Snow Festival. 1 National landmarks such as the impressive, original redbrick prefectural office and the charming Sapporo clock tower, built with Euro-American designs, lend the island a Western air. Hokkaido’s famous local specialties—such as potatoes and corn—strengthen this foreign flavor. “Boys be ambitious!,” William S. Clark’s legendary exhortation, functions as Hokkaido’s unofficial motto. 2 Moving “frontier” dramas, epic samurai-pioneer adventures, and romantic images of the indigenous population—the Ainu—are produced for popular consumption on television, in films, fiction, and manga. At the same time, the specter of Abashiri Prison, the Alcatraz of Japan, looms large in the national consciousness as the cruelest punitive fate.3


Dominant Narrative Japanese Colonial Assimilation Policy Meiji Period Japanese Nation 
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© Michele M. Mason 2012

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  • Michele M. Mason

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