Fish and sea and architecture

There is a close relationship with nature throughout all Japanese archipelago, but I feel that on the island of Hokkaido it is even stronger.
It is not before 1869 that Hokkaido was officially declared Japan’s land. Until then it is said to had been inhabited by Ainu people, which ancestry is somewhat remote and mysterious.

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Therefore, there are but a very few historic buildings on this island.
Recently I have visited an unjoya in Yoichi which history dates back to Edo period:
What is it?

Old Shimoyoichi Unjoya in Yoichi Town in Hokkaido is a nationally designated Historic Site. Unjoya was a shop established at the center of a fish market by the merchants who contracted for selling fish for the Matsumae domain in the Edo period (1603-1868).

With the increase in the number of Wajin (ethnic Japanese), the contractors came to assume an official function as agents of the state and controlled fisheries by collecting a levy from fishers.

During the herring season, the unjoya was operated by the manager (shihainin) with the assistance of a bookkeeper (choba), an interpreter (tsuji) and overseers (bannin), who supervised Ainu labor. In the off-season in winter, only the observers stayed at the shop.

The system of contract fisheries was abolished when the Development Agency (Kaitakushi) was established by the Meiji government in 1869. The premises of unjoya were bought by the government and changed to accommodation facilities, meeting halls and police stations.

Old Shimoyoichi Unjoya is the only existing unjoya building, which was dismantled and restored according to the design drawing made at the time of its reconstruction in 1853.

スクリーンショット 2018-07-18 11.36.12

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