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Edo, Ezo and the Ainu

 
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:39 pm    Post subject: Edo, Ezo and the Ainu Reply with quote
Hello.


Recently, I had a chance to read Brett L. Walker's The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion, 1590-1800; which, as the title suggests, mainly focuses on the various events, trends, and consequences of the Matsumae presence on what is now Hokkaido during the Edo period. (For those so interested, it's available as a hardback and softback, as well as an e-book.)

Has anyone else here had a chance to read it yet; and if so, what kind of impression does this work leave you regarding the efforts of the Matsumae (and the bakufu) on the one hand, or of the various Ainu peoples in and around Ezo on the other?


For my part, I found it striking how the early Matsumae presence almost seemed to echo the efforts of, say, the Hudson's Bay Company to explore (and exploit) Rupert's Land prior to that territory's annexation by Canada; or, indeed, how the distinction between the "Wajinchi" (the area on the Oshima Peninsula considered to be under more or less direct control from Fukuyama Castle) and "Ezochi" (the remainder of the island, considered to be "Ainu" territory) almost evokes the difference between what lay within, or beyond, the Pale in medieval Ireland.

Also of note for me was the wide range of sea-faring trade relations which the coastal Ainu communities on Ezo had with the Ainu of Sakhalin Island and the Kurils, as well as with the other peoples which shared the Sea of Okhotsk (to include Chinese and Russian trading posts on or around the Amur river). Or rather, how stark the contrast was between the relations enjoyed by the Ainu by the onset of the Matsumae presence and the severely curtailed links which were left by the time the bakufu first took direct control over Ezo in 1799.


While the fate of the Ainu on Ezo was dramatically altered in the wake of the Meiji Restoration, and the waves of change brought after the re-framing of the island as "Hokkaido", it is quite informative to see jist what kind of impact the Edo-period Japanese had on the island and its inhabitants; something which may be worth reflecting upon as modern-day efforts continue to try and re-frame the Ainu's place in Japanese society in a more inclusive light.
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have not gotten around to reading the book yet, but have read a number of journal articles... The main thing that I found interesting about the interactions between Matsumae and the Ainu was the permeability of the distinction between Wajin and Ainu identity. Identity, it would seem, was held not so much in physiognomic features (or ethnicity/genetics), but in behavior and customs. If an Ainu man shaved his beard, cut his hair, gave up eating meat, and learned to speak, dress, and otherwise behave as a Japanese, then he was able to become "Japanese" in the eyes of other Wajin around him. Likewise, a Japanese who adopted Ainu customs came to be seen as having become Ainu, in the eyes of the Japanese (though I don't know about how much these people would have been accepted by the Ainu).

At various times during the Edo period, there were even times when great efforts were taken to Japanize, or assimilate, as many Ainu as possible, thus expanding the borders of Wajinchi, as a reaction against Russian encroachment. That this kind of ethnic identity shift was possible within the identity conceptions of Japanese at the time is quite interesting, I think. Especially when we consider how, today, even if someone is born and raised in Japan, even if someone holds Japanese citizenship, their ethnic/blood/genetic identity as being of Chinese, Korean, or non-Asian descent marks them as an outsider, more or less irrevocably.
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shikisoku
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
even if someone holds Japanese citizenship, their ethnic/blood/genetic identity as being of Chinese, Korean, or non-Asian descent marks them as an outsider, more or less irrevocably.

Let me add some more.
Many Chinese and Koreans in Japan prefer to go to own ethnic schools.
Those schools use the same textbooks as the ones in their home countries to keep ethnic identity.
They also belong to ethnic organizations.
It is common for 3rd, 4th generations of Korean immigrants to become Japanese but it's common for them to get threatened by Korean community for that.

Here's testimony of a Korean boy who quit Korean school.
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/111014/crm11101407370002-n1.htm
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/111014/crm11101407370002-n2.htm
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/111014/crm11101407370002-n3.htm
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/111014/crm11101407370002-n4.htm
Quote:
 生徒が朝鮮学校から移ろうとすると、この学校では教師や同級生が集まって思いとどまるよう圧力をかけたという。学校側は他校に受験し直すのに必要な書類の記入を渋り、「内申書はゼロだから」と告げた。

 朝鮮学校側は「在日差別が続く中での民族教育の必要性」を強調し、無償化や補助金問題では「子供たちの学ぶ権利や人権の保障」を強く訴えている。

 しかし生徒は「人権というなら国や自治体は無償化で学校を支援するより、生徒が自由に学校を選べる環境を作ってほしい。学校を変わると一時的に苦労するが、朝鮮学校に通い続けると日本社会に適応できず苦しむ」と語った。
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ameth and Shikisoku both have good points about the CURRENT situation with ethnicity and identity in present day Japan, and if we're going to discuss that further, then someone should create a topic for it in the Modern Japan section, please. Having read on it extensively for class, it's a multi-faceted topic that can create lots of heat, but there's no right answer on either side. That's okay for people to discuss, but let's keep this thread on the Walker book.

Nerroth: I've read the book and found it fascinating, as I've never really studied Hokkaido and the Ainu except my two trips to Hokkaido and seeing the Ainu Minzoku Mura at Shiraoi (might be off on the location names, don't have time to look it up now).

One of the things that struck me most was that the Matsumae han did NOT grow rice, and did not pay taxes in rice--as someone who has always studied the agrarian basis of the premodern archipelagic economy, it was really interesting how they actively prevented the introduction of rice growing to Ezochi in order to control the sale of rice to the Ainu, and how other domains like those in Tohoku tried to circumvent them and trade rice for Ainu goods. I think it fits very well with Amino Yoshihiko's contention that Japan wasn't as fully agrarian focused as we are led to believe by studying documents.

The Ainu as a greater community extending over the Kuriles, Sakhalin, and onto the continent also echoes a lot of what Amino says about early "Japan" being part of a maritime community that extended over to Korea and China and the Russian coast. With that understanding, it really is almost shocking at how quickly it all becomes a "natural" part of "Japan" by the Meiji period. Much like Okinawa, I had never even thought about Hokkaido as NOT part of Japan until I read about it.

I actually just recommended the book to an undergrad here who is interested in the Ainu. It's a really good book.
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
When it comes to rice, I remember reading in another book (I can't recall which, unfortunately) that part of the issue with rice in Ezo was that, prior to the Meiji Restoration, the strains of rice available were not overly suitable for growing there. From what I recall (which, again, I don't claim to be authoritative off-hand) one of the American advisors to the body overseeing the first large-scale colonisation of Hokkaido suggested the Japanese moving there should adopt the kind of staple foods that grew in the colder climes of North America; but, instead, a more climate-resitant strain of rice was found and used by the colonists.

If any of that was indeed the case, it may have been more down to the underlying fragility of the Wajinchi relative to the "home" domains further south; the Matsumae emphasis on trade being used as a counter-weight to the logistical problems they faced in trying to keep Fukuyama Castle a going concern.
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