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Hokkaido (北海道)

Mount Usu / Sarobetsu post-mined peatland
From left: Crater basin in 1986 and 2006. Cottongrass / Daylily

Location: N41°24'-45°31', E139°45'-145°50'
Area: 83,453.57 km2 (Tokyo Metropolis 2191 km2) - 22% of Japan

[ Sapporo | HU Campus ]

Cool temperate zone
Low tempeature, lower precipitation
Many active volcanoes
Wetlands, such as Sarobetsu
Classification of regions, representative (地域区分)
  • Northern Hokkaido (Soya, Rumoi and Kamikawa)
  • Eastern Hokkaido (Kitami, Nemuro, Kushiro and Tokachi)
  • Central Hokkaido (Sorachi, Ishikari, Shiribeshi, Iburi and Hidaka)
  • Southern Hokkaido (Oshima and Hiyama)
Flower: Hamanasu (ハマナス, Rosa rugosa)
Tree: Ezomatsu (エゾマツ, Picea jezoensis)
Bird: Tancho (タンチョウ, Grus japonensis)

coalfield (炭鉱)
skislopes (スキー場)
soil (土壌)
vertical distribution of vegetation (植生垂直分布)
volcanoes (火山)
wetland (湿原)

Eastern Hokkaido (道東)

Shibetsu wetland or mire (標津湿原)

National Natural Monument
Ichani Karikariusu Site - Group of Shibetsu National Historic Sites


Bear Country
Don't approach
Don't feed!
Ministry of the Environment / Hokkaido / Town of Shari Rausu
Oshin-Koshin Falls
The name Oshinkoshin originates from the Ainu language, meaning “a place where many Ezo spruce grow”. As the waterfall consists of two separate flows, it is also nicknamed “Soubi no Taki” meaning “beautiful forked waterfalls”. Oshinkoshin Falls were selected as one of Japan’s 100 beautiful waterfalls in 1990.

Northern Hokkaido (道北)

Wakkanai (稚内)

The origin of Wakkanai
In 1633, during the Edo period (Kan’ei year 10), the first Sakoku Edict was issued. Under this edict, merchants were banned from direct commerce with the Ainu people, and the only port of entry into Ezo (the land now known as Hokkaido) was through the district of Matsumae. During this period, the Soya area was opened as a territory under the control of Matsumae.
By the late 18th century, Russia had appeared seeking trade within Ezo. As a countermeasure, the Soya area was secured by members of the Tsugaru and Aizu clans. Famous samurai such as Ihara Yaroku, Mogami Tokunai, Matsuda Denjuro, and Mamiya Rinzo also came to Soya by decree of the shogunate.
In July of 1879, the 12th year of the Meiji era, a city office was placed in what was then known as the town of Soya. This is considered the beginning of Wakkanai. In 1990 (Meiji year 33), Wakkanai officially split off from the Soya township, and in 1955 (Showa year 30) the two districts combined to become Wakkanai City as we know it today.
Even no in Soya, the remnants of the Soya Gokokuji Temple, Soya Itsukushima Shrine, and the grave sites of Soya’s old samurai remain as important symbols of Wakkanai’s history.

Wakkanai Board of Education

Mount Apoi (アポイ岳)

810.5 m elevation Characteristics:

Horoman peridotite (幌満橄欖岩)
→ many endemic and/or endangered species
alpine plants

2008 Japanese Geopark
2015 Global Geopark

Mt. Apoi GeoPark

Erman's birches above dwarf stone pines:

vertical distribution turned upside-down

When you climb Mt. Apoi, from around the seventh stage, you will reach the forest limit and gain views of the surroundings. However, the summit is in the middle of a forest of Erman's birch trees, and does not offer any view. This is another of Mt. Apoi's riddles. Normally, with increasing altitude, mountain vegetation changes from broadleaf to coniferous forest zones and then to an Erman's birch forest zone. The end of this zone is also the forest limit, and above the Erman's birch zone, there is a dwarf stone pine zone. On Mt. Apoi, however, the vertical distribution of the vegetation is upside-down: the Erman's birch forest zone is above he dwarf stone pine zone.

Alternate Layers of Gabbro and Peridolite

Sixth to seventh stages

Mt. Apoi reaches the forest line around here. Beyond this line is the dwarf pine zone. The horizontal layers beyond the sign consist of alternating rugged gabbro and receding brown peridotite. The Horoman peridotite complex from which Mt. Apoi is formed has a massive layered structure made up of varied types of peridotite and smaller amounts of mafic rock.

Why do endemic alpine plants bloom on a low-altitude mountain?

Alpine plants on a low-altitude mountains and an abundance of flowers that bloom only here. These are the two greatest attractions and the most intriguing features of Mt. Apoi. There are believed to be three reasons for two mysterious phenomena.
  1. Peridotite
    The soil of Mt. Apoi consists of peridotite, a type of rock of which the mountain itself is also constituted, and this type of soil contains many components that hinder the growth of plants. Also, as peridotite does not easily crumble, it takes time for soil to accumulate, and the accumulated soil is easily removed by wind and rain. Therefore, the layer of soil covering Mt. Apoi is thin, dries easily and offers poor only nutrition.
  2. Climate
    Mt. Apoi is only three kilometers away from the Pacific Coast, and so the entire mountain is frequently enveloped in sea fog during the summer. The fog obstructs the light from the sun and brings down the temperature. For this reason, summer on Mt. Apoi is cool, but like the summer on a high-altitude mountain. Moreover, the snow cover in winter is thin and the ground temperature low. Due to these meteorological conditions, the environment on Mt. Apoi is similar to that on a high-altitude mountain.
  3. Geological history
    Ever since it was formed, Mt. Apoi has always been a land mountain. For this reason, it has protected the flora from the time of its formation. Moreover, plants from northern regions that moved southward to Japan during the glacial period, when Japan was still connected to continental Asia, escaped to mountains including Mt. Apoi during the warm interglacial period.
    The plants that remained on or escaped to Mt. Apoi in this way underwent evolution while adapting to the special peridotite soil, and became endemic plants that can be found only here.
This is how the complex interaction of three factors, namely, peridotite, meteorological conditions and geological history, led to endemic alpine flowers blooming on 810-meter Mt. Apoi.

Sapporo (札幌)


Location: the southwest part of Ishikari Plain and the alluvial fan of the Toyohira River, a tributary stream of the Ishikari River (the capital of Hokkaido)
Climate: humid continental climate (Dfa)
Tree = lilac (Convallaria majalis L.)
Flower: lily of the valley (Syringa vulgaris L.)
Bird: common cuckoo
Conspicuous to exotic species (Tsuyuzaki et al. 2011)

Seven Horomui Herbs (ほろむい七草)

Horomui (ホロムイ): the southwestern part of Iwamizawa
  1. Rubus chamaemorus L. (ホロムイイチゴ)
  2. Carex oligosperma Michx. ssp. tsuishikarensis (Koidz. et Ohwi) T. Koyama et Calder. (ホロムイクグ)
  3. Juncus tokubuchii Miyabe et Kudo. (ホロムイコウガイ)
  4. Carex middendorffii F. Schmidt. (ホロムイスゲ)
  5. Scheuchzeria palustris L. (ホロムイソウ)
  6. Chamaedaphne calycula (L.) Moench (ホロムイツツジ)
  7. Gentiana triflora Pall. var. japonica (Kush) H. Hara f. horomuiensis (Kudo) Toyok. (ホロムイリンドウ)
Geography (地形)
Nishioka Park
Figure. Topography of Sapporo and its neighboring areas

Headquarters for the Shinkotoni Soldier Village

This building was constructed as the headquarters for the Shinkotoni Soldier Village (the Third Farm-Soldier Company of the First Battalion), formed in 1887 as one of the bases for the development of Hokkaido by farm-solders. The shape of the building is simple, possessing a noble appearance. Characteristics of western-style timber construction, which was popular at that time, are found in the entrance area and around windows, etc. The City of Sapporo designated the building as a cultural property on April 20, 1974, and now preserves and manages it.

[Moiwa skislope, landscape on skislopes]

Mount Moiwa (藻岩山)

South Ward, Sapporo (43°01'05''N, 141°19'31.9''E, 531 m a.s.l.)

1960 Ski liftts on moiwa skislope

Mount Moiwa stands at 531 m above sea level, and is called “Inkaruspe” in the Ainu language. Mount Moiwa is not only a lookout spot for salmon swimming upstreams, but is also honored as a sacred mountain. Every year, Ainu people and citizen volunteers perform a traditional ceremony praying Kamuy-nomi here.
Takeshiro Matsuura, an explorer from the late Edo period, described Mount Moiwa in his journal Shiribeshi Nisshi as the mountain of the Ainu people’s beloved deity.
In addition to the panoramic view of Sapporo City and the Ishikari Plains, the mountain is rich in greenery, boasting over 70 unique types of trees, including the Japanese Judas (ranko*), elm (cikisani), magnolia (opke-ni), and white birch trees (tatni). On March 3rd, 1921, Mount Moiwa Primeval Forest was designated a Natural Monument of extraordinary academic value.
*: the terms in parentheses are the Ainu words for these trees

September 2018 City of Sapporo


primeval forest (nickname) → non-primeval forest, in a precise sense

Takeshiro Matsuura "The Diary in Shiribeshi" Feb. 11 1858 (lunar calendar)

"... a small mountain covered by needle-leaved trees on the west bank, that is Mount Moiwa ..."
→ mixed forest dominated by Picea jezoensis and Abies sachalinensis by the end of the Meiji Era

Plants and forests

Table. Common seed plants on Mount Moiwa (in Japanese).

Parks in Sapporo (札幌の公園)

Nopporo Forest Park (野幌森林公園)

2503 ha designated a prefectural natural park in 1968

110, 400 and 200 woody, herbaceous and fungal species, respectively

Tree regeneration is characterized by nurse or fallen logs
Hokkaido Prefectural Natural Park Nopporo Forest Park Map
Osawa Reservoir Loop Walk

Ainu or Aynu (アイヌ)

We need to consider the history and culture of Ainu when we talk about Hokkaido
Aynu=itak = Ainu language (Ainuic)
Three major dialects in pre-1945 (*: extinct)

Hokkaido (+ Honshu in pre-18C)

SOV (subject - object - verb)

uses postpositions rather than prepositions

Pet, Nay: a river
Sarobetsu (サロベツ): sar-o-pet サオペッ (reed swamp·present·river)

Ainu plant nomenclature (アイヌ植物命名法)

Note: many dialects with temporal change
ni (tree)
ci-kisa-ni: Japanese elm (Ulmus davidiana)
eha, aha: Chinese hog-peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata)
pittok: common cow parsnip (Heracleum dulce)
pukusa-kina: (Anemone flaccida)
paskur-mun (crow + grass): (Apocynum venetum)
kito, pukusa: victory onion (Allium victorialis)
Actinidia polygama (マタタビ)
matatampu (マタタンプ): mata (winter) + tampu

tampu (turtle shell = gall or souvenir)