Hokkado, Japan as an Island System in East Asian Pre-Colonial History

Author(s): Gary Crawford

Year: 2017


Hokkaido, Japan is an island separate from the East Asian mainland and Honshu yet closely linked culturally to the rest of the Japanese archipelago. Hokkaido was never isolated entirely from the East Asian mainland either. This paper reviews several key events that relate to Hokkaido as an island with a distinct cultural history. As the contemporary home of an indigenous population, the Ainu, Hokkaido has played, and can continue to play, an important role in our understanding of cultural trajectories in East Asia. Two cultures linked almost solely to Hokkaido as well as to Ainu development, the Epi–Jomon and Satsumon cultures, are examined from the perspective of how being situated on Hokkaido facilitated unique adaptations to and within the broader East Asian socio-economic sphere. In particular, the cultural changes resulting from the incursion of a mainland form of agricultural society and economy to Japan beginning ca. 2800 BP resulted in a transformation of the cultural landscape throughout Japan except Hokkaido by ca. 2300-2000 BP. Hokkaido, being an island, participated in the transformation in a distinctive manner, first resisting change but ultimately participating in the transformation as evidenced by the formation of the Satsumon culture, the ancestors of the Ainu.

Cite this Record

Hokkado, Japan as an Island System in East Asian Pre-Colonial History. Gary Crawford. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431692)


Agriculture Ainu Japan

Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17014