Organized Panel Session
This panel places recent histories of Hokkaido in conversation to consider how the island’s past shapes our understanding of Japanese history as a transnational narrative. Wilson’s work analyzes how training voyages from the Hokkaido port of Hakodate to Russia aboard Japanese built Western style sailing vessels im the 1860s both embodied shipbuilding technology transfer from US experts while also exposing Japanese sailors to deep sea navigation. Thornton’s work interrogates how Sapporo’s development as a colonial capital influenced Japanese city building across pre-war Asia. Hayata’s project explores how analysis of Ainu populations in both Hokkaido and Sakhalin applied a German understanding of racial hygiene to the Japanese empire. Bull’s project investigates the role of Sakhalin repatriates in local identity construction in 1950s Hokkaido.
Collectively, these studies suggest that Japan’s modern connections to global flows of information, goods and people emerged not merely from links forged in the main island of Honshu (host to the political capital of Tokyo) but also on a critical scale from the newly integrated island of Hokkaido to the north. Hokkaido emerged as a core node for these linkages not merely because of its malleable status as a colonial territory, but also because of centuries’ old integration into its surrounding maritime sphere. These transnational ties are central to Hokkaido’s definition of a global past as it celebrates its 150thanniversary and challenges the dominant narrative of a Hokkaido history primarily defined by its relationship to the political center.