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Writing Ainu Out

The Nature Of Japanese Colonialism In Hokkaido
  • Michele M. Mason
Chapter
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Abstract

At the heart of an impressive array of Meiji-period visions of Hokkaido lay the island’s awe-inspiring natural world. Through the prism of nature, Hokkaido was frequently viewed as a place of incalculable advantages and plenitude, evinced in its pristine, rich natural reserves, as well as a place of adversity and hardship, manifested in the frigid and unforgiving winters. Hokkaido’s majestic mountains, sweeping plains, and vast “virgin” forests collectively constituted what seemed an infinite “empty” expanse that beckoned adventurous Japanese settlers. In its rugged and undeveloped state, Hokkaido was characterized as a limitless source of hitherto untapped resources awaiting Japanese ingenuity and civilization. Images of Hokkaido as a “savage” wilderness served the state’s goals by acting as a foil to confirm Japan’s superior status and rationalize the colonial project. The forbidding landscape and climate also provoked deeply disturbing reflections on the modern notion of the self and society and was occasionally deployed to represent an alienated Japanese psyche that struggled to cope with the vicissitudes of modern life. Inviting copious commentary, the naturescape of the island remained a pronounced marker of Hokkaido’s otherness even as it became more firmly integrated into the political economy of the nascent Japanese nation-state.

Keywords

Indigenous People Natural World Unfair Labor Practice Terra Incognita Japanese Immigrant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    David Spurr, The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), 92.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Nitobe Inazō, The Imperial Agricultural College of Sapporo, Japan (Sapporo: Imperial College of Agriculture, 1893), 1.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Karatani Kōjin, Origins of Modern Japanese Literature, trans. Brett de Bary (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993), 23.Google Scholar
  4. 47.
    Tom Henighan, Natural Space in Literature: Imagination and Environment in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Fiction and Poetry (Ottowa: Golden Dog, 1982), 36. Italics added.Google Scholar
  5. 53.
    Honjō Mutsuo, Ishikarigawa (Tokyo: Taikandō shoten, 1939).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michele M. Mason 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michele M. Mason

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