Shakushain's Revolt
was an Ainu
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

 rebellion against Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese authority on Hokkaidō
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

 between 1669 to 1672. It was led by Ainu chieftain Shakushain against the Matsumae clan
Matsumae clan
The was a Japanese clan which was granted the area around Matsumae, Hokkaidō as a march fief in 1590 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and charged with defending it, and by extension all of Japan, from the Ainu 'barbarians' to the north. The clan was originally known as the Kakizaki clan who settled...

, who represented Japanese trading and governmental interests in the area of Hokkaidō then controlled by the Japanese (Wajin
Yamato people
is a name for the dominant native ethnic group of Japan. It is a term that came to be used around the late 19th century to distinguish the residents of the mainland Japan from other minority ethnic groups who have resided in the peripheral areas of Japan, such as the Ainu, Ryukyuan, Nivkh, Ulta, as...


The war initially began as a fight for resources between Shakushain's people and a rival Ainu clan in the Shibuchari River (Shizunai River
Shizunai River
is a river in Shinhidaka, Hokkaidō, Japan. The Shizunai River drains from the Hidaka Mountains into the Pacific Ocean.-Origin of the name:The Shizunai River was known as Shibuchari and Shibechari. This name was derived from Shipe-ichan meaining a salmon spawning place in Ainu...

) basin of what is now Shinhidaka, Hokkaidō
Shinhidaka, Hokkaido
is a town located in Hidaka District, Hidaka Subprefecture, Hokkaidō, Japan. Shinhidaka is the most populous town and the economic center of Hidaka Subprefecture.-History:...

. The war developed into a final attempt by the Ainu to preserve their political independence and regain control over the terms of their trade relations with the Wajin.

According to scholar Brett Walker:

Shakushain's War stands out as a watershed event in the history of the conquest of Ezo
is a Japanese name which historically referred to the lands to the north of Japan. It was used in various senses, sometimes meaning the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō, and sometimes meaning lands and waters further north in the Sea of Okhotsk, like Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands...

. Shakushain exploded onto the scene as a charismatic leader who proved able to bridge regional differences among Ainu communities, threatening to unite them against the Japanese intrusion from the south. The Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 reacted by solidifying its own united from of military allies in the northeast, replacing local Matsumae generals with men of its own choosing, thus illustrating its self-appointed role as defender of the realm.

The only other comparable large-scale revolt by Ainu against Japanese rule was the Menashi-Kunashir Battle of 1789. An earlier rebellion along the same lines was Koshamain's Revolt in 1456.

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