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Swedish map of Japan (c. 1900) with the Yezo region featured.

Ezo (蝦夷), also known as Yezo or Yeso,[1] is an ancient Japanese name for the lands to the north of Japan.[2] It was the name of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō.[3] It was also used as a name for islands in the Sea of Okhotsk, including the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin.

Ezo people, woodblock print circa 1840

The terms Ezo, Yezo, Ebisu or Emishi were also used as a name for the people and culture of northern Honshu,[3] including Akita Prefecture, Aomori Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture, Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture.

History[change | change source]

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.[4] This book, which was published in Japan in 1785, described the Ezo region and people.[5]

Titsingh's translation of Sankoku Tsūran Zusetsu was published in 1832.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. The spelling Yezo is related to 17th century pronunciation when Japan's contacts with the West were beginning. The romaji spelling Ezo is Modern Standard Japanese.
  2. Batchelor, John. (1902). Sea-Girt Yezo: Glimpses at Missionary Work in North Japan, pp. 2-8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Ezo" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 184.
  4. WorldCat, Sangoku Tsūran Zusetsu; alternate romaji Sankoku Tsūran Zusetsu
  5. Cullen, Louis M. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds, p. 137.
  6. Klaproth, Julius. (1832). San kokf tsou ran to sets, ou Aperçu général des trois royaumes, pp. 181-255.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Ezo at Wikimedia Commons