100 years leading up to the Meiji era—the end of Japan's seclusion started in the north
150 years ago, after the country was opened up by the signing of a trade treaty with the Western powers, Japan reformed from a feudal nation controlled by the samurai to a modern state. In the previous Edo period, the Japanese government had pursued a policy of seclusion, during which it had only traded with the Netherlands and China, and only via the island of Dejima in Nagasaki Prefecture at the western tip of Japan. However, trading was also taking place with ships from the Russian Empire in Hokkaido, at the very northern end of the Japanese archipelago—thus, it could be argued that Japan's path to more open borders started here. We take a northern perspective on the opening up of Japan’s national seclusion.