This presentation examines the emergence of Hakodate Japan as a central whaling port in the North Pacific and its role in linking mid-nineteenth century Japan to global flows of trade and people. Through interactions with US whalers, Hakodate-based merchants, port officials and Japanese whaler-apprentices became core historical agents who precipitated dynamic changes within Japan, integrating the nation into the transmarine Pacific. While historians have long explained Japan’s emergence as a Pacific nation through events which occurred in its core, more southern islands, this talk highlights the significance of northern Japan in that process.
Noell Wilson is Chair of the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History and Croft Associate Professor of History and International Studies at the University of Mississippi. She is the author of several publications on Japan as a maritime nation and larger Pacific history, including Defensive Positions: The Politics of Maritime Security in Tokugawa Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2015), winner of the 2017 Book Prize from the Southeastern Conference of the Association for Asian Studies. A 2017-18 Fulbright Researcher at Hokkaido University, Japan, when not writing about maritime history, Wilson stays connected to the ocean through sailing and SCUBA diving.