Secret of Sakhalin Island (Karafuto)


Sakhalin (Karafuto in Japanese) is a very long (c.a. 1000 km) but narrow (200 km in its largest extent) island located between Japan and Russian Maritime Territory. It is separated from Asian continent by a narrow strait of 6 km width and for that reason, first, Westerners thought it should be a peninsula. With Kuril Islands, Sakhalin is one of the territories disputed between Japan and Russia and its belonging has not yet been definitely settled.

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Time Table of Sakhalin Island

Sakhalin Island has a very old history. For a long time the island has been served for a bridge to link Japan and the continent. During the glacial epoch, Japan Sea was a huge lake and Japan, directly connected to the continent. Even after the thaw, the road passing through Sakhalin and Hokkaido remained easier to use than the passage of Korean strait because the straits are narrower and shallower. Here is the time table of Sakhalin Island since 0 A.D. to nowadays. The most events are unknown in the western literature.

Adventure of Mamiya Rinzo

Mamiya Rinzo is the Japanese explorer who proved first time Sakhalin should be an island. Actually he went around the island to make a precise map and then crossed the strait to reach the Chinese trading post of Deleng at Amur River. Here are an account of his adventure and pictures of that epoch.

Maps of the region

The frontier between Japan and Russia has changed frequently during the last 2 centuries and for that reason the territorial claim of the both sides is not clear. We show here the modifications of the frontier between 2 countries since the treaty of Shimoda in 1855. There are also some historical maps.

Modification of the frontier

Historical Maps

Sakhalin related Web pages

Here is a collection of Sakhalin related Web pages, including the territorial dispute over Kuril Islands and Ainu (indigenous people of the region).

Studying Japanese and Russian

If you want to know more about the history of the region, you have to study Japanese and Russian languages. Please visit the web page of Free Light Software, specialized in multimedia educational software. You can download and test the demo versions before purchasing products.

Asian Rare Books

If you are looking for a book related to the Russia-Japan relationship or any other Asian and Far-East Russian topics, please take a glance at the web page of "Asian Rare Books" located at New York city. You can even search your favorite books by a key word.

Mother Russia Citylink

If you are looking for an information on other Russian regions, please click on the thumbnail picture above.

Vocabulary of northern territory

Here is a list of Japanese vocabulary used in the history of northern territory. It shows also how to write it in Japanese characters and related links.


Compiled from the materials courteously offered by Organization for the return to Japan of South Sakhalin.
We express our gratitude for that help to Mr Kunitake Watanabe, the president of the organization.
Most recent update: January 19, 2020
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