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Shchepkin V.V. Wind from the North. Russia and Ainu in 18th century Japan / Ed. by V.E.Molodykov. Moscow: Krug, 2017. 392 p. (Novye issledovaniya po yaponskoy kul'ture, Vol. 4.)

The first half of seventeenth century was the period when Tokugawa central government tried and managed to bring Japan's foreign relations under control after more than а century of disorder. The result was the shoguncentered system of "four gates" realized bу the 1640s. In the frames of this system Tsushima and Satsuma domains were responsible for the diplomatic relations with Korea and Ryukyu respectively while reaping the fruits of trade with them. Nagasaki was the only seaport where Chinese and Dutch ships from East and Southeast Asia were allowed to соте for trade under the supervision bу shogun's governor. Last, Matsumae, the only J apanese domain on the southern tip of present day Hokkaido, was in charge of trade relations with Ainu who lived on the same island, as well as Sakhalin and Kuril Islands, and didn't have their own state. At the same time, these four gates provided the government with the information about the outer world, since the activities of the Portuguese in Southeast Asia and of the Manchus in China remained of great concern bу the bakufu in the rest of seventeenth century. Thus, the south can bе defined as crucial direction for the Japan's foreign policy and acquisition of information, while the north was considered а desolate direction since the trade with Ainu was of far lesser volume than that in the south and relations with them was of low significance for the shogun's legitimacy. Matsumae domain have arranged relations between Japanese merchants and Ainu bу dividing Ainu lands from Japanese lands on the island and enfeoffing trading posts to its vassals while restricting Ainu from moving off their lands. The knowledge of the Ainu lands was, however, still poor even in Matsumae: Japanese didn't even know how far to the north they last. At the sаmе time, it was from the north that Russians began to enter the Ainu lands in early eighteenth century, and this region have finally bесоmе the main contact zone of Russia and Jараn...


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Russian-Japanese relations

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