Ezo (蝦夷) (also spelled Yezo or Yeso)[1] is the Japanese term historically used to refer to the people and the lands to the northeast of the Japanese island of Honshu.[2] This included the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido,[3][4][5][6] which changed its name from "Ezo" to "Hokkaidō" in 1869,[7] and sometimes included Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.[3][4]

Map of the "Land of Iesso" by French cartographer Alain Manesson Mallet (1683)

In reference to the people of that region, the same two kanji used to write the word Ezo can also be read Emishi. The descendants of these people are most likely related to the Ainu people of today.[8]

Etymology Edit

Japanese sources that include an etymology describe Ezo as probably originally a borrowing from the Ainu word enciw meaning 'person; people'.[3][5][6][4] The term is first attested in Japanese in a text from 1153 in reference to any of the non-Japanese people living in the northeast of Honshū, and then later in 1485 in reference to the northern islands where these people lived, primarily Hokkaido, Karafuto (that is, Sakhalin), and the Kuril Islands.[3][4]

The kanji spelling is based on the meanings of the characters rather than the phonetics (jukujikun), and is composed of the characters meaning 'shrimp, lobster' and meaning 'barbarian'. The use of the character for 'shrimp, lobster' might be in reference to the long "whiskers" (antennae) of these animals, alluding to the prominent beards worn by Ainu men.

The spelling 'Yezo' reflects its pronunciation c. 1600, when Europeans first came in contact with Japan. It is this historical spelling that is reflected in the scientific Latin term yezoensis, as in Fragaria yezoensis and Porphyra yezoensis. However, there are species that use a different spelling, such as the Japanese scallop known as Mizuhopecten yessoensis (帆立貝, hotategai).

History Edit

The first published description of Ezo in the West was brought to Europe by Isaac Titsingh in 1796. His small library of Japanese books included Sangoku Tsūran Zusetsu (三国通覧図説, An Illustrated Description of Three Countries) by Hayashi Shihei.[9] This book, which was published in Japan in 1785, described the Ezo region and its people.[10]

In 1832, the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland supported the posthumous abridged publication of Titsingh's French translation of Sankoku Tsūran Zusetsu.[11] Julius Klaproth was the editor, completing the task which was left incomplete by the death of the book's initial editor, Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat.

Subdivisions Edit

Ezo (蝦夷) or Ezogashima (蝦夷ヶ島) (lit.'Island of the Ezo') was divided into several districts. The first was the Wajinchi, or 'Japanese Lands', which covered the Japanese settlements on and around the Oshima Peninsula. The rest of Ezo was known as the Ezochi (蝦夷地) (lit.'Ezo-land'), or 'Ainu Lands'. Ezochi was in turn divided into three sections: North Ezochi, which covered southern Sakhalin; West Ezochi, which included the northern half of Hokkaidō; and East Ezochi, which included the populous southern Hokkaidō and the Kuril Islands.[12]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Batchelor, John. (1902). Sea-Girt Yezo: Glimpses at Missionary Work in North Japan, pp. 2–8.
  2. ^ Harrison, John A., "Notes on the discovery of Ezo", Annals of the Association of American Geographers Vol. 40, No. 3 (Sep., 1950), pp. 254–266 [1]
  3. ^ a b c d "蝦夷 (Ezo)". Kokugo Dai Jiten (Shinsō-ban) 国語大辞典(新装版) [Big Japanese Dictionary, New Edition] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shōgakukan. 1993. ISBN 4-09-501002-9. "Hito" no i no Ainu-go kara. 「人」の意のアイヌ語から。 [From the Ainu for "person".]
  4. ^ a b c d "蝦夷 (Ezo)". 大辞林 [Daijirin] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Sanseidō. Ainu-go no enju / enciw (hito, no i) kara to iu アイヌ語のエンジュ・エンチウ(人,の意)からという [Apparently from Ainu enju / enciw (meaning "person")]
  5. ^ a b "蝦夷 (Ezo)". Shin Meikai Kokugo Jiten Dai Go Han 新明解国語辞典 第五版 [Shin Meikai Japanese Dictionary, Fifth Edition] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Sanseidō. 1997. ISBN 4-385-13143-0. Ainu-go encu (hito no i) no henka to iu アイヌ語 encu (人の意)の変化という [Apparently a shift from Ainu encu (meaning person)]
  6. ^ a b "蝦夷 (Ezo)". Gakken Kokugo Dai Jiten 学研国語大辞典 [Gakken Big Japanese Dictionary] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Gakken. «Sankō» (Ainu) enju (= hito) kara. 《参考》(アイヌ)enju(=人)から。 [«Reference» From (Ainu) enju (= person)]
  7. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Ezo" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 184.
  8. ^ Haywood, John; Jotischky, Andrew; McGlynn, Sean (1998). Historical Atlas of the Medieval World, AD 600–1492. Barnes & Noble. pp. 3.24–. ISBN 978-0-7607-1976-3.
  9. ^ WorldCat, Sangoku Tsūran Zusetsu; alternate romaji Sankoku Tsūran Zusetsu
  10. ^ Cullen, Louis M. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds, p. 137., p. 137, at Google Books
  11. ^ Klaproth, Julius. (1832). San kokf tsou ran to sets, ou Aperçu général des trois royaumes, pp. 181-255., p. 181, at Google Books
  12. ^ Frey, Christopher J. (2007) Ainu Schools and Education Policy in Nineteenth-century Hokkaido, Japan p.5, p. 5, at Google Books

References Edit

External links Edit