A Selection of International Children's and Youth Literature

Japanese / Japan

Hokkaidō. Matsuura Takeshirō no Ezochi tanken
(Hokkaido, the Northern Ainu Land. Takeshiro Matsuura’s expeditions to Ezo)

Sekiya, Toshitaka (text/illus.)
Tōkyō: Poplar-sha, 2014. – 44 p.
(Series: Popurasha no ehon; 27)
ISBN 978-4-591-14008-6

Ainu – Indigenous people – Map –
Picture book

Hokkaido, the northern prefecture of Japan, has many unique place-names that come from Ainu, the linguistically distinct language of the region’s indigenous people. 160 years ago, a man named Takeshiro Matsuura visited Ezo (the former name of Hokkaido). He sketched the beautiful landscape, met Ainu people and learned about their lifestyle. During his difficult Ezo expeditions, Ainu people accompanied him and told him about the place-names as well as each name’s history. He published the Ezo maps, which convey historically accurate information about the Ainu. His courageous defence of the Ainu people, who were exploited by the local government through unfair trade policies, threatened his own position as well. “Hokkaido” originally means “the northern Ainu land”. With dynamic illustrations printed on cloth and the inclusion of much detailed information, this picture book captures Matsuura’s personal relationship with the Ainu people and his respect for their distinctive culture and language. (Age: 9+)