5th Special Exhibition:
Place Names in Hokkaido and Place Names Derived from the Ainu Language



Many of Hokkaido’s place names are derived from the Ainu language. Foremost, this provides proof that the Ainu are the original inhabitants of Hokkaido.
Since the Meiji period (1868 to 1912), large numbers of people have immigrated to Hokkaido from Honshu. Examining place names throughout Hokkaido shows that place names of Ainu origin have been adapted to Japanese through substitution of kanji (Sino-Japanese characters), giving evidence of Hokkaido’s unique history. This exhibition provides an opportunity to reexamine Hokkaido through its place names while introducing place names found in old maps and literature dating back to the Edo period, examining research records of the leading expert on place names derived from the Ainu language, YAMADA Hidezo, and exploring the distinguishing features of Hokkaido’s place names.


The exhibition is organized into four parts.

Part 1: Establishing Place Names
We introduce a variety of historical maps and literature dating back to the Edo period (17th century to mid 19th century). While each of these historical maps and records are extremely valuable documents on their own right, they further provide important clues as to how geographical and place names were established at that time.


Part 2: Touring Hokkaido’s Place Names
We explore the research of YAMADA Hidezo, the leading expert in the field of Ainu place names, with special attention to records of places which he personally visited. We address such issues as “What are Ainu place names”, “What sort of history surrounds these place names derived from the Ainu language”, and “Ainu people who have personally investigated and presented on these place names”.


Part 3: A Closer Look at Hokkaido’s Place Names
We examine and explore the distinguishing features of Hokkaido’s place names through the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods (mid 19th to late 20th century) utilizing a variety of pictures, maps, and comparison with place names elsewhere in Japan.


Part 4: The Joy of Place Names
Visitors participate in an interactive corner which invites them to ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘touch’, and ‘think’ while enjoying discussion of Hokkaido’s place names and our image of Hokkaido.
Through the four parts above, this special exhibition reexamines Hokkaido through its place names. Please take your time and enjoy the exhibition.



General Information

Period Saturday, July 6 – Monday, September 23, 2019
Venue Special Exhibition Hall, Hokkaido Museum
Hours 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Please enter by 30 minutes before the museum closes.
Closed Every Monday (Except for July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 16 and Sept. 23) and July 16, Aug. 13 and Sept. 17
Admission Special Exhibition Adults: 1,000 yen Students: 350 yen
Special and Main Exhibitions Adults: 1,300 yen Students: 450 yen



Exhibit Guide for Smartphones via Pocket Curator


Throughout this exhibition, detailed exhibit commentary in Japanese and English is available via the “Pocket Curator”, interactive exhibit app on mobile devices.


Please search for ‘Pocket Curator’ (by Waseda System Development) on App Store or Google Play, or follow the link below, to download the app.


You can download PDF file which includes the exhibition commentaries from ‘Pocket Curator’.

Commentary Sheet (PDF)


Printed copies are available as well on request at the reception of the special exhibition.