Why is Hokkaido farming different?

I always assumed (mainly from Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase) that it was mainly a geographical thing, until I came across this:

“As Hokkaido was colonised by Japan in the 19th century, its agriculture was much influenced by American farming methods introduced by the Japanese government from the start of the modern period. Its landscape is dotted with American-style silos, grain elevators, and farm buildings in primary colours that one does not see in Japan  to the south”

The Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture page 23



  1. Michael said,

    September 17, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I don’t see why it couldn’t be both. I seem to recall reading that Hokkaido was sparsely populated prior to the Meiji reformation; if the need for Western cold-climate farming techniques coincided with a desire to imitate Western society, the results would be compounded.

  2. Bill Wood said,

    October 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Wlliam Penn Brooks, a graduate of the Massachusetts Agricultural College at Amherst, was invited by the Japanese government to assist in the establishment of the Sapporo College of Agriculture. He worked for ten years in Japan, primarily developing cold weather agriculture. The University of Massachusetts and the University of Hokkaido continue to have a close relationship.

  3. Jeffrey said,

    October 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Yup. And Sapporo is N-S E-W because it was designed by an English architect/city planner.

    The grain elevators and silos are more a function of what is being farmed (corn) and the scale of the farming.

    The UN classifies most of Japanese agriculture to be “intensive gardening” due to the mostly miniature scale of 99% of the rice and vegetable farming on Honshu and Kyushu.

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