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Colonization Office 1869-1882 (Japan)

開拓使

Last modified: 2014-10-04 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: japan | star | colonization office |
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[Colonization Office flag]
image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 05 May 2014


See also:

Overview

The Colonization Office was established on 15 August 1869 as a central governmental body to develop Hokkaidō and oppose Russian advances in the Far East. The office was abolished on 8 February 1882. While short-lived (less than 13 years) it  contributed greatly to the development of Hokkaidō. Its direct management ofgovernment and schools made a significant contribution to Hokkaidō’s industry and culture. It may be no exaggeration to say that today’s Hokkaidō would have been impossible without the contribution of the Colonization Office.
In the 17th century, today’s Hokkaido was called Ezo. By the end of Edo Period (1603-1868), the southwest area of the Oshima Peninsula was governed by the Matsumae Domain while all other areas, including North Ezo (Sakhalin, were controlled by the Hakodate Magistrate as a territory under direct rule of the government.On 12 July 1869, immediately after the Enomoto forces surrendered to the forces of the Meiji government, Naomasa Nabeshima, the former lord of the Saga Domain, was appointed director of Ezo Development. The development of Ezo was important to the new government, as it had to work urgently to resolve Sakhalin border issue with Russia. On 20 August 1869 the name Ezo was changed to Hokkaido by the cabinet. (The word "office" in "Colonization Office" was used only for temporary or special governmental organizations, and indeed the Colonization Office was abolished once Hokkaidō had developed sufficiently and took on the same status as other mainland prefectures.) On14 September 1872 the main office Colonization of Office was changed the name to Colonization Office Sapporo Main Office and its main three-story white building was completed in October 1873. The Polar Star Flag flew at the top of the newly-completed building, 5 shakus in height by 8 shakus in length; its star emblem was 3 shakus, 3 suns, 2 bus in diameter. There is no record of when the flag was adopted, but it was likely around October 1873 when the building was completed.
The flag is a white field charged with a five pointed red Western style star in the center.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 March 2014

Nabeshima - is it the same family that the stories from Hagakure arecentered about?
While I know that a shaku roughly corresponds to a foot, I am not familiar with the lesser units. I guess that most of the FOTWers would have the same problem, so could you please give us the dimensions in metric units as well?
Tomislav Todorović, 16 March 2014

Please see this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaku_(unit)
Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 March 2014

It may be that he drew an actual flag specimen, if any survive, or that he didn't have these measurements, as his image does not match the specifications.
I've drawn this as a 5:8 flag, with centred on the flag a red five-pointed star, with a spanning circle with a diameter of 3.32. Note that I've applied the diameter to the circle, but I've centred the star itself. If that's incorrect, just tell me and I'll correct it.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 05 May 2014

Regarding the "Northern Sea Road" that is a straight English translation but in this case it means Northern Sea Territory.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 05 May 2014


Colonization Office’s ensigns

five-ponted star version:
[Colonization Office flag]
image by Jaume Ollé, 16 March 2014

seven-ponted star version:
[Colonization Office flag]
image by Jaume Ollé, 16 March 2014

However it was a year before the Colonization Office started using the Polar Star flag. In answer to an 1881 enquiry about its ensign from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the office sent a picture of the ensign used by the Office’s vessel Genbu-Maru and referenced a descriptive document from 1872. The picture shows the Colonization Office’s ensign, a blue flag charged with a red five-pointed star. The text also gave the description and size of the ensign: 3 shakus, 5 suns in height and 9 shakus, 1 jyo in length. The referenced document, issued in February 1872, suggested that in establishing a maritime route between Hokkaido and Sakhalin, the Colonization Office should adopt a blue ensign charged with the Polar Star to distinguish the Office’s vessel; The proposal was made by Suejiro Ebiko, who was appointed captain of the Colonization Office’s vessel Sakhalin-Go in February 1872. He was born in Hakodate and studied navigation with Ayasaburo Takeda, a scholar of Dutch and the designer of Goryokaku (the star-shaped fort in Hakodate).
Following Ebiko’s proposal, the Colonization Office adopted the ensign on 12 April 1872 and sent the official notice to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the four prefectures with the open ports of Kanagawa, Hyogo, Nagasaki, and Niigata. However on 21 October 1872, Deputy Director Kiyotaka Kuroda asked for approval of a new ensign charged with red seven-pointed star in blue field. While the Colonization Office adopted the new ensign on 2 November without waiting for the approval, the request was finally rejected on 27 November and Kuroda was ordered to use the existing five-pointed star design.
Wrote for late Mr Miru Takano and summarized by Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 March 2014

Can I get that ratio confirmed before I draw it: 3.5 : 19 ?? Or is this a different, shorter "jyo"? No specification for the star?
Well, if it's the Polar Star, it would have to be a sharp five-pointed star, probably in the same relative height as in the flag. Jaume drew a fat star, however (on three times the radius). Does that mean that in
practice the star in the ensign was different from that in the flag?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 05 May 2014

Threre is no specification for the star but illustraion from the office. Jaume draw the star little bit fat based on the illustration. So please don't change the shape of the Polar star for ensign. Meanwhile the Colonization Office flag has a sharp 5 pointed star.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 05 May 2014


Temporary College

[Colonization Office flag]
image by Jaume Ollé, 16 March 2014

On 21 April 1872, in Shiba-Zojyoji Tokyo, the Colonization Office Temporary College opened. It was called "temporary" as the plan was to move it to Sapporo and to enlarge it. On 29 July 1875 the Colonization Office did move the college to Sapporo and changed its name to Sapporo College. The Colonization Office’s Department of Academic Affairs became responsible for Sapporo College and on 7 September it held an opening Ceremony. On 29 April 1876 the Colonization Office sent Vice Director Mori an order to use a college flag which is white field charged with red Polar star in upper fly and college name in black Chinese character beneath of it.
On 14 August its name changed to Sapporo College of Agriculture, so its flag was in use for less than four months.
Wrote for late FOTWer Mr Miru Takano and summarized by Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 March 2014


The Colonization Office Hospital

[Colonization Office flag]
image by Jaume Ollé, 16 March 2014

The Colonization Office opened its hospitals and issued an order to hoist the hospital flag on 20 June 1874. The flag was divided diagonally red (upper fly) over blue (lower hoist) with a white five-pointed star in the red section.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 March 2014


The Colonization Pump (Fire Department)

[Colonization Office flag]
image by Jaume Ollé, 16 March 2014

[Colonization Office flag]
image by Jaume Ollé, 16 March 2014

As Sapporo developed and Colonization Office increased the number of its own buildings, there was growing concern over the threat of accidental fire. Therefore Colonization Office appointed a fire department to conduct strict patrols, and it had its own flag. The flag had a blue field bearing a red star and an inscription in white.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 March 2014


The Ensign of Honinsha Vessels

[Colonization Office flag]
image by Jaume Ollé, 16 March 2014

In January 1872 Honinsha was established as a semi-governmental shipping company which received governmental subsidy. It leased the Hokkaimaru from  Colonization Office and become the first contractor of marine insurance in Japan. However after just over a year, in April 1873 an employee’s malfeasance in collusion with a governmental clerk led to the company’s dissolution. It had adopted Colonization Office flag which is white field charged with red serrated stripe at upper part and red Polar star at lower fly.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 March 2014


The End of Official Use of the Flag

On or after 10 January 1878 by order of the Colonization Office - Sapporo Main Office these flags stopped flying at its main building and other related buildings. The reason: the flags were not especially necessary, they were costly, and by Cabinet policy national flag hoisting over governmental buildings was cancelled. The ensign appears to have been used for a few more years. However, long after the official use of the Colonization Office Flag ended, the flag, popularly called the Polar Star Flag, survived as a symbol of Hokkaido in the minds of the people, and inspired many municipal flags and other symbols in the prefecture.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 16 March 2014



 
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