Abstract – Hansen

Kyoko’s Assemblage: Escaping ‘futsū no nihonjin’ in Hokkaidō

Paul HANSEN (Hokkaidō University, Sapporo)

Drawing on the history and ethnographic present of the Tokachi region of Hokkaidō and its combination of wild and domestic space, this presentation addresses the history of Hokkaidō as a ‘frontier’. It argues that rural Tokachi is a space wherein exile and escape have long been prominent themes, and further, that such marginalized rural spaces continue to attract individualistic individuals seeking a way out of Japanese social expectations but not necessarily a departure from their Japanese identity. The area is historically a place of self-making for Japanese subjects and this paper details an “assemblage“ of individual / individuated relations contingent and ever-circulating amongst newcomers to a small town in northern Tokachi. To understand their escape from Honshū, it suggests that typical social construction indices (gender, age, class and so on) are often of less use in understanding relations and motivations than harder to place and trace conditions such as charisma, luck or affect.