Matsuura Takeshiro (松浦武四郎)

Takeshiro MATSUURA (March 12 1818-February 10 1888) was a Japanese explorer who was active from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period. His gago (pen-name) was 'Hokkaidojin' (meaning person of Hokkaido). He explored Ezochi, and devised the name Hokkaido.

MATSUURA was the fourth son of Keisuke MATSUURA, a goshi (rural) samurai from Sugawamura, Ichishi District, Ise Province (current day Onoecho, Matsusaka City, Mie Prefecture). He studied herbalism under Boyo YAMAMOTO. From early on he travelled to many provinces, and in 1838 became a Buddhist monk, taking the name Bunkei. In 1844 he returned to secular life and departed for an expedition to Ezochi (current day Hokkaido). This expedition reached Iturup (Etorofu-tō) and Sakhalin (Karafuto).
In 1855 he was chosen for official Ezo duty, travelling again to Ezo to survey the area and publishing the 'Geographical Map of East and West Ezo Mountains and Rivers.'
In 1869 he became a government urban planner, and was responsible for naming Ezochi 'Hokkaido' and assigning Ainu names to the provinces and districts. In 1879 he criticised the Hokkaido Development Commissioner, and after resigning from his post, spent the remainder of his life as a writer, travelling the country up to the year before he died.

When he was 68 he began climbing Mt. Odaigahara after being influenced by Tessai TOMIOKA, and at his own expense built a mountain trail and set up a small hut on the mountain. Part of his cremains were buried at a monument dedicated to him that was erected in 1889 in his beloved Nagoya Valley in West Odai.

Also, the 'Matsuura Takeshiro Memorial Museum' has been built in his birth town of Onoe, Matsuaka City, Mie Prefecture.


The Matsuura family are said to have arrived in Ise Province in the Middle Ages as members of the Matsuura clan of Hirado, Hizen Province.