|Anthem: Hikari afurete, Mukashi no mukashi and Hokkai bayashi|
|Subdivisions||Districts: 74, Municipalities: 179|
|• Governor||Naomichi Suzuki|
|• Total||83,423.84 km2 (32,210.12 sq mi)|
(July 31, 2023)
|• Density||61/km2 (160/sq mi)|
|Gross Regional Product|
|• Total||JP￥20.465 trillion|
|ISO 3166 code||JP-01|
|Symbols of Japan|
|Bird||Tanchō (red-crowned crane, Grus japonensis)|
|Flower||Hamanasu (rugosa rose, Rosa rugosa)|
|Tree||Ezomatsu (Jezo spruce, Picea jezoensis)|
Hokkaido (Japanese: 北海道, Hepburn: Hokkaidō, pronounced [hokkaꜜidoː] ⓘ; lit. 'Northern Sea Circuit') is Japan's second largest island and comprises the largest and northernmost prefecture, making up its own region. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaidō from Honshu; the two islands are connected by the undersea railway Seikan Tunnel.
The largest city on Hokkaidō is its capital, Sapporo, which is also its only ordinance-designated city. Sakhalin lies about 43 kilometers (26 mi) to the north of Hokkaidō, and to the east and northeast are the Kuril Islands, which are administered by Russia, though the four most southerly are claimed by Japan. Hokkaidō was formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso.
Although there were Japanese settlers who had ruled the southern tip of the island since the 16th century, Hokkaido was considered foreign territory that was inhabited by the indigenous people of the island, known as the Ainu people. The Japanese settlers began their migration to Hokkaido in the 17th century, which often resulted in clashes and revolts between Japanese and Ainu populations.
In 1869, following the Meiji Restoration, Ezo, which means "the land of the barbarians" in Japanese, was annexed by Japan under on-going colonial practices, and renamed Hokkaido. After this event, Japanese settlers started to colonize the island, establishing Japan's first modern settler colony. While Japanese settlers colonized the island, the Ainu people were dispossessed of their land, forced to assimilate, and aggressively discriminated against by the Japanese settlers. In the 21st century, the Ainu have been almost totally assimilated into Japanese society; as a result, many Japanese of Ainu descent have no knowledge of their ancestry and culture.
When establishing the Development Commission, the Meiji government decided to change the name of Ezochi. Matsuura Takeshirō submitted six proposals, including names such as Kaihokudō (海北道) and Hokkaidō (北加伊道), to the government. The government eventually decided to use the name Hokkaidō, but decided to write it as 北海道, as a compromise between 海北道 and 北加伊道 because of the similarity with names such as Tōkaidō (東海道). According to Matsuura, the name was thought up because the Ainu called the region Kai. The kai element also strongly resembles the On'yomi, or Sino-Japanese, reading of the characters 蝦夷 (on'yomi as [ka.i, カイ], kun'yomi as [e.mi.ɕi, えみし]) which have been used for over a thousand years in China and Japan as the standard orthographic form to be used when referring to Ainu and related peoples; it is possible that Matsuura's kai was actually an alteration, influenced by the Sino-Japanese reading of 蝦夷 Ka-i, of the Nivkh exonym for the Ainu, namely Qoy or IPA: [kʰuɣɪ].
In 1947, Hokkaidō became a full-fledged prefecture. The historical suffix 道 (-dō) translates to "prefecture" in English, ambiguously the same as 府 (-fu) for Osaka and Kyoto, and 県 (-ken) for the rest of the "prefectures". Dō, as shorthand, can be used to uniquely identify Hokkaido, for example as in 道道 (dōdō, "Hokkaido road") or 道議会 (Dōgikai, "Hokkaido Assembly"), the same way 都 (-to) is used for Tokyo. The prefecture's government calls itself the "Hokkaidō Government" rather than the "Hokkaidō Prefectural Government".
With the rise of indigenous rights movements, there emerged a notion that Hokkaido should have an Ainu language name. If a decision to change the name is made, however, whichever Ainu phrase is chosen, its original referent is critically different from the large geographical entity. The phrase aynumosir (アイヌモシㇼ) has been a preferred choice among Japanese activists. Its primary meaning is the "land of humans", as opposed to the "land of gods" (kanuymosir). When contrasted with sisammosir (the land of the neighbors, often pointing to Honshu or Japanese settlements on the southern tip of Hokkaido), it means the land of the Ainu people, which, depending on context, can refer to Hokkaido, although from a modern ethnolinguistic point of view, the Ainu people have extended their domain to a large part of Sakhalin and the entire Kuril Islands. Another phrase, yaunmosir (ヤウンモシㇼ) has gained prominence. It literally means the "onshore land", as opposed to the "offshore land" (repunmosir), which, depending on context, can refer to the Kuril Islands, Honshu, or any foreign country. If the speaker is a resident of Hokkaido, yaunmosir can refer to Hokkaido. Yet another phrase, akor mosir (アコㇿモシㇼ) means "our (inclusive) land". If uttered among Hokkaido Ainus, it can refer to Hokkaido or Japan as a whole.
During the Jomon period the local culture and the associated hunter-gatherer lifestyle flourished in Hokkaidō, beginning over 15,000 years ago. In contrast to the island of Honshu, Hokkaidō saw an absence of conflict during this time period. Jomon beliefs in natural spirits are theorized to be the origins of Ainu spirituality. About 2,000 years ago, the island was colonized by Yayoi people, and much of the island's population shifted away from hunting and gathering towards agriculture.
The Nihon Shoki, finished in 720 AD, is often said to be the first mention of Hokkaidō in recorded history. According to the text, Abe no Hirafu led a large navy and army to northern areas from 658 to 660 and came into contact with the Mishihase and Emishi. One of the places Hirafu went to was called Watarishima (渡島), which is often believed to be present-day Hokkaidō. However, many theories exist concerning the details of this event, including the location of Watarishima and the common belief that the Emishi in Watarishima were the ancestors of the present-day Ainu people.
During the Nara and Heian periods (710–1185), people in Hokkaidō conducted trade with Dewa Province, an outpost of the Japanese central government. From the Middle Ages, the people in Hokkaidō began to be called Ezo. Hokkaidō subsequently became known as Ezochi (蝦夷地, lit. "Ezo-land") or Ezogashima (蝦夷ヶ島, lit. "Island of the Ezo"). The Ezo mainly relied upon hunting and fishing and obtained rice and iron through trade with the Japanese.
During the Muromachi period (1336–1573), the Japanese created a settlement at the south of the Oshima Peninsula, with a series of fortified residences such as that of Shinoridate. As more people moved to the settlement to avoid battles, disputes arose between the Japanese and the Ainu. The disputes eventually developed into war. Takeda Nobuhiro killed the Ainu leader, Koshamain, and defeated the opposition in 1457. Nobuhiro's descendants became the rulers of the Matsumae-han, which was granted exclusive trading rights with the Ainu in the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods (1568–1868). The Matsumae family's economy relied upon trade with the Ainu. They held authority over the south of Ezochi until the end of the Edo period.
The Matsumae clan rule over the Ainu must be understood in the context of the expansion of the Japanese feudal state. Medieval military leaders in northern Honshu (ex. Northern Fujiwara, Akita clan) maintained only tenuous political and cultural ties to the imperial court and its proxies, the Kamakura shogunate and Ashikaga shogunate. Feudal strongmen sometimes located themselves within medieval institutional order, taking shogunate titles, while in other times they assumed titles that seemed to give them a non-Japanese identity. In fact, many of the feudal strongmen were descended from Emishi military leaders who had been assimilated into Japanese society. The Matsumae clan were of Yamato descent like other ethnic Japanese people, whereas the Emishi of northern Honshu were a distinctive group related to the Ainu. The Emishi were conquered and integrated into the Japanese state dating back as far as the 8th century and as result began to lose their distinctive culture and ethnicity as they became minorities. By the time the Matsumae clan ruled over the Ainu, most of the Emishi were ethnically mixed and physically closer to Japanese than they were to Ainu. From this, the "transformation" theory postulates that native Jōmon peoples changed gradually with the infusion of Yayoi immigrants into the Tōhoku, in contrast to the "replacement" theory that posits the Jōmon was replaced by the Yayoi.
There were numerous revolts by the Ainu against the feudal rule. The last large-scale resistance was Shakushain's revolt in 1669–1672. In 1789, a smaller movement known as the Menashi–Kunashir rebellion was crushed. After that rebellion, the terms "Japanese" and "Ainu" referred to clearly distinguished groups, and the Matsumae were unequivocally Japanese.
According to John A. Harrison of the University of Florida, prior to 1868 Japan used proximity as its claim Hokkaido, Saghalien and the Kuril Islands; however, Japan had never really explored, governed, or exploited the areas, and this claim was invalidated by the movement of Russia into the Northeast Pacific area and by Russian settlements on Kamchatka, Saghalien and the Okhotsk Coast.
Leading up to the Meiji Restoration, the Tokugawa shogunate realized there was a need to prepare northern defenses against a possible Russian invasion and took over control of most of Ezochi. Many Japanese settlers regarded the Ainu as "inhumane and the inferior descendants of dogs." The Tokugawa irregulary imposed various assimilation programs on the Ainu as a response to the Tokugawa's perceived threat of Russia. For example, assimilation programs were implemented in response to perceived threats from Russia, which included the Laxman expedition of 1793 and the Golovnin Incident of 1804. Once the respective Russian threats subsided, the assimilation programs were halted until 1855. However, in 1855, once the Treaty of Shimoda was signed, which defined the borders between Russian Empire and Tokugawa Japan, the Tokugawa again viewed Russia as threat to Japanese sovereignty over Hokkaido, and reinstated assmilation programs on the Ainu.
Hokkaidō was known as Ezochi until the Meiji Restoration. Shortly after the Boshin War in 1868, a group of Tokugawa loyalists led by Enomoto Takeaki temporarily occupied the island (the polity is commonly but mistakenly known as the Republic of Ezo), but the rebellion was crushed in May 1869. Through colonial practices, Ezochi was annexed into Japanese territory, and renamed Hokkaido. Ezochi was subsequently put under control of Hakodate Prefectural Government. When establishing the Development Commission (開拓使, Kaitakushi), the Meiji government introduced a new name. After 1869, the northern Japanese island was known as Hokkaidō; and regional subdivisions were established, including the provinces of Oshima, Shiribeshi, Iburi, Ishikari, Teshio, Kitami, Hidaka, Tokachi, Kushiro, Nemuro and Chishima.
The primary purpose of the Development Commission was to secure Hokkaidō before the Russians extended their control of the Far East beyond Vladivostok. The Japanese failed to settle in the interior lowlands of the island because of aboriginal resistance. The resistance was eventually destroyed, and the lowlands were under the control of the commission. The most important goal of the Japanese was to increase the farm population and to create a conducive environment for emigration and settlement. However, the Japanese did not have expertise in modern agricultural techniques, and only possessed primitive mining and lumbering methods. Kuroda Kiyotaka was put in charge of the project, and turned to the United States for help.
His first step was to journey to the United States and recruit Horace Capron, President Ulysses S. Grant's commissioner of agriculture. From 1871 to 1873 Capron bent his efforts to expounding Western agriculture and mining, with mixed results. Frustrated with obstacles to his efforts, Capron returned home in 1875. In 1876, William S. Clark arrived to found an agricultural college in Sapporo. Although he only remained a year, Clark left a lasting impression on Hokkaidō, inspiring the Japanese with his teachings on agriculture as well as Christianity. His parting words, "Boys, be ambitious!", can be found on public buildings in Hokkaidō to this day. The population of Hokkaidō increased from 58,000 to 240,000 during that decade.
After the Meiji colonization of Hokkaido, Meiji Japan depended on prison labour to accelerate the colonization process. The Japanese built three prison and rendered Hokkaido a prison island, where political prisoners were incarcerated and used as prison labour. During the opening ceremony of the first prison, the Ainu name “Shibetsuputo” was replaced with the Japanese name “Tsukigata,” as an attempt to “Japanize” Hokkaido's geography. The second prison opened near the Hokutan Horonai coal mine, where Ainu people were forced to work. Cheap prison labour played an important role in coal and sulphur mining, as well as road construction in Hokkaido. Eventually, several types of indentured labour, Korean labour, child labour and women labour replaced convict labour in Hokkaido. Working conditions were difficult and dangerous. Japan's transition to capitalism depended heavily on the growth of the coal mining sector in Hokkaidō. The importance of coal from Hokkaidō increased throughout the First World War, and the mines required a large amount of labourers.
World War II
In mid-July 1945, various shipping ports, cities, and military facilities in Hokkaidō were attacked by the United States Navy's Task Force 38. On 14–15 July, aircraft operating from the task force's aircraft carriers sank and damaged a large number of ships in ports along Hokkaidō's southern coastline as well as in northern Honshu. In addition, on 15 July a force of three battleships and two light cruisers bombarded the city of Muroran. Before the Japanese surrender was formalized, the Soviet Union made preparations for an invasion of Hokkaidō, but U.S. President Harry Truman made it clear that the surrender of all of the Japanese home islands would be carried out by General Douglas MacArthur per the 1943 Cairo Declaration.
Hokkaidō became equal with other prefectures in 1947, when the revised Local Autonomy Law became effective. The Japanese central government established the Hokkaidō Development Agency (北海道開発庁, Hokkaidō Kaihatsuchō) as an agency of the Prime Minister's Office in 1949 to maintain its executive power in Hokkaidō. The agency was absorbed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in 2001. The Hokkaidō Bureau (北海道局, Hokkaidō-kyoku) and the Hokkaidō Regional Development Bureau (北海道開発局, Hokkaidō Kaihatsukyoku) of the ministry still have a strong influence on public construction projects in Hokkaidō.
|Area||77,981.87 km2 (30,108.97 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,290 m (7510 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Asahi|
|Largest settlement||Sapporo (pop. 1,890,561)|
|Population||5,377,435 (September 30, 2016)|
|Pop. density||64.5/km2 (167.1/sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Ainu |
The island of Hokkaidō is located in the north of Japan, near Russia (Sakhalin Oblast). It has coastlines on the Sea of Japan (to the west of the island), the Sea of Okhotsk (to the north), and the Pacific Ocean (to the east). The center of the island is mountainous, with volcanic plateaux. Hokkaidō has multiple plains such as the Ishikari Plain 3,800 km2 (1,500 sq mi), Tokachi Plain 3,600 km2 (1,400 sq mi), the Kushiro Plain 2,510 km2 (970 sq mi) (the largest wetland in Japan) and Sarobetsu Plain 200 km2 (77 sq mi). Hokkaidō is 83,423.84 km2 (32,210.12 sq mi) which make it the second-largest island of Japan.
The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaidō from Honshu (Aomori Prefecture); La Pérouse Strait separates Hokkaidō from the island of Sakhalin in Russia; Nemuro Strait separates Hokkaidō from Kunashir Island in the Russian Kuril Islands.
The governmental jurisdiction of Hokkaidō incorporates several smaller islands, including Rishiri, Okushiri Island, and Rebun. (By Japanese reckoning, Hokkaidō also incorporates several of the Kuril Islands.) Hokkaidō Prefecture is the largest and northernmost Japanese prefecture. The island ranks 21st in the world by area.
Hokkaido seen from the International Space Station
Hokkaidō has the third-largest population of Japan's five main islands, with 5,111,691 people as of 2023[update]. It has the lowest population-density in Japan with just 61 inhabitants per square kilometre (160/sq mi) (2023). Hokkaidō ranks 21st in population among the world's islands. Major cities include Sapporo and Asahikawa in the central region and the port of Hakodate facing Honshu in the south. Sapporo is the largest city of Hokkaidō and 5th-largest in Japan. It had a population of 1,959,750 as of 31 July 2023[update] and a population density of 1,748/km2 (4,530/sq mi).
July 31, 2023[update]
Flora and fauna
There are three populations of the Ussuri brown bear found on the island. There are more brown bears in Hokkaidō than anywhere else in Asia besides Russia. The Hokkaidō brown bear is separated into three distinct lineages. There are only eight lineages in the world. Those on Honshu died out long ago.
Notable flora and fauna Name Type Notes Ussuri brown bear Fauna One of the largest populations by average size of brown bears (Ursus arctos lasiotus) Steller's sea eagle Fauna On average, the heaviest eagle species in the world (Haliaeetus pelagicus) Hokkaido wolf Fauna Extinct subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus hattai). Yezo sika deer Fauna Large subspecies of the sika deer (Cervus nippon yesoensis) Ezoris Fauna Also called the Ezo squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris orientis) Ezo red fox Fauna Native to northern Japanese archipelago (Vulpes vulpes schrencki) Ezo tanuki Fauna Subspecies of raccoon dog native to Hokkaido (Nyctereutes viverrinus albus) Hokkaido dog Fauna A Spitz-type domesticated hunting dog perhaps descend from introduced Akitas Dosanko Fauna Also called the "Hokkaido horse" Sable Fauna (Martes zibellina) A species of marten which inhabits Hokkaido and Northern Asia. Viviparous lizard Fauna (Zootoca vivipara) Ezo salamander Fauna (Hynobius retardatus) Dolly Varden trout Fauna (Salvelinus malma) Sasakia charonda Fauna National butterfly of Japan (ō-murasaki, "great purple") Grey Heron Fauna (Ardea cinerea) Long legged wading bird. Chum salmon Fauna (white salmon (白鮭 シロサケ) is native to middle and northern Honshu, Hokkaido and the North Pacific. Sockeye salmon Fauna (Oncorhynchus nerka, ベニザケ - Benizake) live in Hokkaido and the North Pacific. Ezo spruce Flora Picea jezoensis Sakhalin spruce Flora Picea glehnii Japanese rose Flora Rosa rugosa
In 1993, an earthquake of magnitude 7.7 generated a tsunami which devastated Okushiri, killing 202 inhabitants. An earthquake of magnitude 8.3 struck near the island on September 26, 2003. On September 6, 2018, an earthquake of magnitude 6.6 struck with its epicenter near the city of Tomakomai, causing a blackout across the whole island.
On May 16, 2021, an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck off Japan's Hokkaidō prefecture.
|Shiretoko National Park*||知床|
|Akan Mashu National Park||阿寒|
|Kushiro-shitsugen National Park||釧路湿原|
|Daisetsuzan National Park||大雪山|
|Shikotsu-Tōya National Park||支笏洞爺|
|Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park||利尻礼文サロベツ|
|Abashiri Quasi-National Park||網走|
|Hidaka-sanmyaku Erimo Quasi-National Park||日高山脈襟裳|
|Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park||ニセコ積丹小樽海岸|
|Ōnuma Quasi-National Park||大沼|
|Shokanbetsu-Teuri-Yagishiri Quasi-National Park||暑寒別天売焼尻|
- Twelve prefectural natural parks (道立自然公園). The prefectural natural parks cover 146,802 ha, the largest area of any prefecture.
- Akkeshi Prefectural Natural Park
- Esan Prefectural Natural Park
- Furano-Ashibetsu Prefectural Natural Park
- Hiyama Prefectural Natural Park
- Kariba-Motta Prefectural Natural Park
- Matsumae-Yagoshi Prefectural Natural Park
- North Okhotsk Prefectural Natural Park
- Nopporo Shinrin Kōen Prefectural Natural Park
- Notsuke-Fūren Prefectural Natural Park
- Sharidake Prefectural Natural Park
- Shumarinai Prefectural Natural Park
- Teshiodake Prefectural Natural Park
|Lake Akkeshi, Bekkanbeushi Wetland||厚岸湖・別寒辺牛湿原||1993-06-10,|
|Notsuke Peninsula, Notsuke Bay||野付半島・野付湾|
|Lake Fūren, Shunkunitai||風蓮湖・春国岱|
As of April 2010[update], Hokkaidō has nine General Subprefectural Bureaus (総合振興局) and five Subprefectural Bureaus (振興局). Hokkaidō is one of eight prefectures in Japan that have subprefectures (支庁 shichō). However, it is the only one of the eight to have such offices covering the whole of its territory outside the main cities (rather than having them just for outlying islands or remote areas). This is mostly because of its great size; many parts of the prefecture are simply too far away to be effectively administered by Sapporo. Subprefectural offices in Hokkaidō carry out many of the duties that prefectural offices fulfill elsewhere in Japan.
|Subprefecture||Japanese||Main city||Largest municipality||Pop.
|1||Sorachi||空知総合振興局||Iwamizawa||Iwamizawa||338,485||5,791.19||10 cities||14 towns|
|a||↳ Ishikari||石狩振興局||Sapporo||Sapporo||2,324,878||3,539.86||6 cities||1 town||1 village|
|2||Shiribeshi||後志総合振興局||Kutchan||Otaru||234,984||4,305.83||1 city||13 towns||6 villages|
|3||Iburi||胆振総合振興局||Muroran||Tomakomai||419,115||3,698.00||4 cities||7 towns|
|b||↳ Hidaka||日高振興局||Urakawa||Shinhidaka||76,084||4,811.97||7 towns|
|4||Oshima||渡島総合振興局||Hakodate||Hakodate||433,475||3,936.46||2 cities||9 towns|
|c||↳ Hiyama||檜山振興局||Esashi||Setana||43,210||2,629.94||7 towns|
|5||Kamikawa||上川総合振興局||Asahikawa||Asahikawa||527,575||10,619.20||4 cities||17 towns||2 villages|
|d||↳ Rumoi||留萌振興局||Rumoi||Rumoi||53,916||3,445.75||1 city||6 towns||1 village|
|6||Sōya||宗谷総合振興局||Wakkanai||Wakkanai||71,423||4,625.09||1 city||8 towns||1 village|
|7||Okhotsk||オホーツク総合振興局||Abashiri||Kitami||309,487||10,690.62||3 cities||14 towns||1 village|
|8||Tokachi||十勝総合振興局||Obihiro||Obihiro||353,291||10,831.24||1 city||16 towns||2 villages|
|9||Kushiro||釧路総合振興局||Kushiro||Kushiro||252,571||5,997.38||1 city||6 towns||1 village|
|e||↳ Nemuro||根室振興局||Nemuro||Nemuro||84,035||3,406.23||1 city||4 towns|
|* Japan claims the southern part of Kuril Islands (Northern Territories), currently administered by Russia,|
belong to Nemuro Subprefecture divided into six villages. However, the table above excludes these islands' data.
Hokkaidō is divided into 179 municipalities.
There are 35 cities in Hokkaidō:
Towns and villages
These are the towns and villages in Hokkaido Prefecture:
As Japan's coldest region, Hokkaidō has relatively cool summers and icy/snowy winters. Most of the island falls in the humid continental climate zone with Köppen climate classification Dfb (hemiboreal) in most areas but Dfa (hot summer humid continental) in some inland lowlands. The average August temperature ranges from 17 to 22 °C (62.6 to 71.6 °F), while the average January temperature ranges from −12 to −4 °C (10.4 to 24.8 °F), in both cases depending on elevation and distance from the ocean, though temperatures on the western side of the island tend to be a little warmer than on the eastern. The highest temperature ever recorded is 39.5 °C (103.1 °F) on 26 May 2019.
The northern portion of Hokkaidō falls into the taiga biome with significant snowfall. Snowfall varies widely from as much as 11 metres (400 in) on the mountains adjacent to the Sea of Japan down to around 1.8 metres (71 in) on the Pacific coast. The island tends to have isolated snowstorms that develop long-lasting snowbanks. Total precipitation varies from 1,600 millimetres (63 in) on the mountains of the Sea of Japan coast to around 800 millimetres (31 in) (the lowest in Japan) on the Sea of Okhotsk coast and interior lowlands and up to around 1,100 millimetres (43 in) on the Pacific side. The generally high quality of powder snow and numerous mountains in Hokkaidō make it a popular region for snow sports. The snowfall usually commences in earnest in November and ski resorts (such as those at Niseko, Furano, Teine and Rusutsu) usually operate between December and April. Hokkaidō celebrates its winter weather at the Sapporo Snow Festival.
During the winter, passage through the Sea of Okhotsk is often complicated by large floes of drift ice. Combined with high winds that occur during winter, this frequently brings air travel and maritime activity to a halt beyond the northern coast of Hokkaidō. Ports on the open Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan are generally ice-free year round, though most rivers freeze during the winter.
Unlike the other major islands of Japan, Hokkaidō is normally not affected by the June–July rainy season and the relative lack of humidity and typically warm, rather than hot, summer weather makes its climate an attraction for tourists from other parts of Japan.
|Sapporo||−0.4 / −6.4
(31.3 / 20.5)
|0.4 / −6.2
(32.7 / 20.8)
|4.5 / −2.4
(40.1 / 27.7)
|11.7 / 3.4
(53.1 / 38.1)
|17.9 / 9.0
(64.2 / 48.2)
|21.8 / 13.4
(71.2 / 56.1)
|25.4 / 17.9
(77.7 / 64.2)
|26.4 / 19.1
(79.5 / 66.4)
|22.8 / 14.8
(73.0 / 58.6)
|16.4 / 8.0
(61.5 / 46.4)
|8.7 / 1.6
(47.7 / 34.9)
|2.0 / −4.0|
(35.6 / 24.8)
|Hakodate||0.9 / −6.0
(33.6 / 21.2)
|1.8 / −5.7
(35.2 / 21.7)
|5.8 / −2.2
(42.4 / 28.0)
|12.0 / 2.8
(53.6 / 37.0)
|17.0 / 8.0
(62.6 / 46.4)
|20.4 / 12.6
(68.7 / 54.7)
|24.1 / 17.3
(75.4 / 63.1)
|25.9 / 18.9
(78.6 / 66.0)
|23.2 / 14.6
(73.8 / 58.3)
|17.1 / 7.8
(62.8 / 46.0)
|10.0 / 1.8
(50.0 / 35.2)
|3.2 / −3.6|
(37.8 / 25.5)
|Asahikawa||−3.3 / −11.7
(26.1 / 10.9)
|−1.7 / −11.8
(28.9 / 10.8)
|3.0 / −6.1
(37.4 / 21.0)
|11.2 / 0.2
(52.2 / 32.4)
|18.8 / 6.1
(65.8 / 43.0)
|22.8 / 12.0
(73.0 / 53.6)
|26.2 / 16.4
(79.2 / 61.5)
|26.6 / 16.9
(79.9 / 62.4)
|21.9 / 11.7
(71.4 / 53.1)
|14.9 / 4.4
(58.8 / 39.9)
|6.2 / −1.5
(43.2 / 29.3)
|−0.8 / −8.0|
(30.6 / 17.6)
|Kushiro||−0.2 / −9.8
(31.6 / 14.4)
|−0.1 / −9.4
(31.8 / 15.1)
|3.3 / −4.2
(37.9 / 24.4)
|8.0 / 0.7
(46.4 / 33.3)
|12.6 / 5.4
(54.7 / 41.7)
|15.8 / 9.5
(60.4 / 49.1)
|19.6 / 13.6
(67.3 / 56.5)
|21.5 / 15.7
(70.7 / 60.3)
|20.1 / 12.9
(68.2 / 55.2)
|15.1 / 6.1
(59.2 / 43.0)
|8.9 / −0.3
(48.0 / 31.5)
|2.5 / −7.0|
(36.5 / 19.4)
|Wakkanai||−2.4 / −6.4
(27.7 / 20.5)
|−2.0 / −6.7
(28.4 / 19.9)
|1.6 / −3.1
(34.9 / 26.4)
|7.4 / 1.8
(45.3 / 35.2)
|12.4 / 6.3
(54.3 / 43.3)
|16.1 / 10.4
(61.0 / 50.7)
|20.1 / 14.9
(68.2 / 58.8)
|22.3 / 17.2
(72.1 / 63.0)
|20.1 / 14.4
(68.2 / 57.9)
|14.1 / 8.4
(57.4 / 47.1)
|6.3 / 1.3
(43.3 / 34.3)
|0.0 / −4.2|
(32.0 / 24.4)
|Rikubetsu||−2.5 / −19.6
(27.5 / −3.3)
|−1.4 / −18.8
(29.5 / −1.8)
|3.2 / −10.6
(37.8 / 12.9)
|10.5 / −2.5
(50.9 / 27.5)
|17.1 / 3.4
(62.8 / 38.1)
|20.6 / 9.1
(69.1 / 48.4)
|23.7 / 14.0
(74.7 / 57.2)
|24.4 / 15.0
(75.9 / 59.0)
|20.8 / 9.8
(69.4 / 49.6)
|14.7 / 1.8
(58.5 / 35.2)
|7.1 / −5.3
(44.8 / 22.5)
|−0.2 / −14.9|
(31.6 / 5.2)
|Saroma||−2.6 / −15.6
(27.3 / 3.9)
|−2.2 / −16.3
(28.0 / 2.7)
|2.5 / −9.5
(36.5 / 14.9)
|10.2 / −1.8
(50.4 / 28.8)
|16.9 / 3.8
(62.4 / 38.8)
|20.2 / 8.9
(68.4 / 48.0)
|23.9 / 13.6
(75.0 / 56.5)
|24.9 / 14.8
(76.8 / 58.6)
|21.6 / 10.1
(70.9 / 50.2)
|15.3 / 2.9
(59.5 / 37.2)
|7.5 / −3.2
(45.5 / 26.2)
|0.1 / −11.7|
(32.2 / 10.9)
|Okushiri||1.6 / −2.4
(34.9 / 27.7)
|1.9 / −2.2
(35.4 / 28.0)
|5.3 / 0.7
(41.5 / 33.3)
|10.0 / 5.0
(50.0 / 41.0)
|14.6 / 9.3
(58.3 / 48.7)
|19.0 / 13.6
(66.2 / 56.5)
|22.9 / 17.9
(73.2 / 64.2)
|25.4 / 20.1
(77.7 / 68.2)
|22.6 / 17.5
(72.7 / 63.5)
|16.6 / 11.8
(61.9 / 53.2)
|10.0 / 5.1
(50.0 / 41.2)
|3.9 / −0.5|
(39.0 / 31.1)
|Erimo||0.2 / −4.0
(32.4 / 24.8)
|−0.2 / −4.3
(31.6 / 24.3)
|2.2 / −1.9
(36.0 / 28.6)
|6.1 / 1.3
(43.0 / 34.3)
|10.1 / 5.0
(50.2 / 41.0)
|13.6 / 9.0
(56.5 / 48.2)
|17.5 / 13.4
(63.5 / 56.1)
|19.9 / 15.8
(67.8 / 60.4)
|19.0 / 14.9
(66.2 / 58.8)
|14.7 / 10.2
(58.5 / 50.4)
|9.3 / 4.2
(48.7 / 39.6)
|3.3 / −1.3|
(37.9 / 29.7)
Major cities and towns
Hokkaidō's largest city is the capital, Sapporo, which is a designated city. The island has two core cities: Hakodate in the south and Asahikawa in the central region. Other important population centers include Tomakomai, Iwamizawa, Kushiro, Obihiro, Kitami, Abashiri, Wakkanai, and Nemuro.
- 2014–2016: inverted house by Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Raphael Zuber, Neven Fuchs, Laura Cristea) and Kengo Kuma & Associates
Although there is some light industry (most notably paper milling and beer brewing) most of the population is employed by the service sector. In 2001, the service sector and other tertiary industries generated more than three-quarters of the gross domestic product.
Agriculture and other primary industries play a large role in Hokkaidō's economy. Hokkaidō has nearly one fourth of Japan's total arable land. It ranks first in the nation in the production of a host of agricultural products, including wheat, soybeans, potatoes, sugar beets, onions, pumpkins, corn, raw milk, and beef. Hokkaidō also accounts for 22% of Japan's forests with a sizable timber industry. The prefecture is first in the nation in production of marine products and aquaculture. The average farm size in Hokkaidō is 26 hectares per farmer in 2013, which is almost 11 times bigger than the national average of 2.4 hectares.
Tourism is an important industry, especially during the cool summertime when visitors are attracted to Hokkaidō's open spaces from hotter and more humid parts of Japan and other Asian countries. During the winter, skiing and other winter sports bring other tourists, and increasingly international ones, to the island.
Coal mining played an important role in the industrial development of Hokkaidō, with the Ishikari coalfield. Cities such as Muroran were primarily developed to supply the rest of the archipelago with coal.
In 2023, Rapidus Corporation announced Hokkaido's largest business investment with a 5 trillion yen plan to build a semiconductor manufacturing factory in Chitose. The site is expected to eventually host over 1,000 employees.
Hokkaido's only land link to the rest of Japan is the Seikan Tunnel. Most travellers travel to the island by air: the main airport is New Chitose Airport at Chitose, just south of Sapporo. Tokyo–Chitose is in the top 10 of the world's busiest air routes, handling more than 40 widebody round trips on several airlines each day. One of the airlines, Air Do was named after Hokkaidō.
Hokkaidō can be reached by ferry from Sendai, Niigata and some other cities, with the ferries from Tokyo dealing only in cargo. The Hokkaido Shinkansen takes passengers from Tokyo to near Hakodate in slightly over four hours. There is a fairly well-developed railway network, but many cities can only be accessed by road. The coal railways were constructed around Sapporo and Horonai during the late 19th century, as advised by American engineer Joseph Crawford.
Hokkaidō is home to one of Japan's Melody Roads, which is made from grooves cut into the ground, which when driven over causes a tactile vibration and audible rumbling transmitted through the wheels into the car body.
The Hokkaido Prefectural Board of Education oversees public schools (except colleges and universities) in Hokkaidō. Public elementary and junior high schools (except Hokkaido Noboribetsu Akebi Secondary School and schools attached to Hokkaidō University of Education) are operated by municipalities, and public high schools are operated by either the prefectural board or municipalities.
Senior high schools
Colleges and universities
Hokkaidō has 34 universities (7 national, 6 local public, and 21 private universities), 15 junior colleges, and 6 colleges of technology (3 national, 1 local public, and 2 private colleges).
- Sapporo ramen, Jingisukan
- Hokkaidō Heritage
- Hokkaido Museum
- Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples
- Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art
- Historical Village of Hokkaido
- Hokkaido Archaeological Operations Center
- Pacific Music Festival
The 1972 Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo.
The sports teams listed below are based in Hokkaidō.
- Hokkaido American Football Association
- Consadole Sapporo (association football)
- Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
- Levanga Hokkaido (basketball)
- Japan Basketball League
- Nippon Paper Cranes (ice hockey)
- Oji Eagles (ice hockey)
- Loco Solare (curling)
- Sapporo Snow Festival
- Asahikawa Ice Festival
- Sōunkyō Ice Festival
- Big Air – snowboarding freestyle competition
- Shōwa-Shinzan International Yukigassen - competitive snowballing
- Alberta, Canada, since 1980
- Heilongjiang, China, since 1980
- Massachusetts, United States, since 1988
- Sakhalin Oblast, Russia, since 1998
- Busan, South Korea, since 2005
- Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, since 2006
- Seoul, South Korea, since 2010
- Chiang Mai, Thailand, since 2013
- Thimphu, Bhutan
- Hawaii, United States of America
The current governor of Hokkaido is Naomichi Suzuki. He won the governorship in the gubernatorial election in 2019 as an independent. In 1999, Hori was supported by all major non-Communist parties and Itō ran without party support. Before 1983, the governorship had been held by Liberal Democrats Naohiro Dōgakinai and Kingo Machimura for 24 years. In the 1971 election when Machimura retired, the Socialist candidate Shōhei Tsukada lost to Dōgakinai by only 13,000 votes; Tsukada was also supported by the Communist Party – the leftist cooperation in opposition to the US-Japanese security treaty had brought joint Socialist-Communist candidates to victory in many other prefectural and local elections in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1959, Machimura had defeated Yokomichi's father Setsuo in the race to succeed Hokkaidō's first elected governor, Socialist Toshibumi Tanaka who retired after three terms. Tanaka had only won the governorship in 1947 in a run-off election against Democrat Eiji Arima because no candidate had received the necessary vote share to win in the first round as required by law at the time.
The Hokkaido Legislative Assembly has 100 members from 47 electoral districts. As of April 30, 2015[update], the LDP caucus holds a majority with 51 seats, the DPJ-led group has 26 members. Other groups are the Hokkaidō Yūshikai of New Party Daichi and independents with twelve seats, Kōmeitō with eight, and the Japanese Communist Party with four members. General elections for the Hokkaido assembly are currently held together with gubernatorial elections in the unified local elections (last round: April 2015).
For the lower house of the National Diet, Hokkaidō is divided into twelve single-member electoral districts. In the 2017 election, candidates from the governing coalition of Liberal Democrats and Kōmeitō won seven districts and the main opposition Constitutional Democrats five. For the proportional election segment, Hokkaidō and Tokyo are the only two prefectures that form a regional "block" district of their own. The Hokkaido proportional representation block elects eight Representatives. In 2017, the Liberal Democratic Party received 28.8% of the proportional vote and won three seats, the Constitutional Democratic Party won three (26.4% of the vote), one seat each went to Kibō no Tō (12.3%) and Kōmeitō (11.0%). The Japanese Communist Party, who won a seat in 2014, lost their seat in 2017 while receiving 8.5% of the votes.
In the upper house of the National Diet, a major reapportionment in the 1990s halved the number of Councillors from Hokkaidō per election from four to two. After the elections of 2010 and 2013, the Hokkaido electoral district – like most two-member districts for the upper house – is represented by two Liberal Democrats and two Democrats. In the 2016 upper house election, the district magnitude will be raised to three, Hokkaidō will then temporarily be represented by five members and six after the 2019 election.
- Former Hokkaidō Government Office
- Hokkaido dialects
- People from Hokkaido
- Sankebetsu brown bear incident
- Sinnoh, a fictional region in the Pokémon franchise which is based on Hokkaido.
- Golden Kamuy, a manga and anime series set mainly in Hokkaido.
- List of cities in Hokkaido by population
- "県民経済計算（平成23年度 - 令和２年度）（2008SNA、平成27年基準計数）＜47都道府県、4政令指定都市分＞".
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MILT classification 6,852 islands (main islands: 5 islands, remote islands: 6,847 islands)
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^[note 1] Source: English edition of Sightseeing in Hokkaido, Winter Festival and Events
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