Cultural Survival

This culture has definitely been rocky ever since it had begun. The act in which ensured Ainu people safety has always fluctuated among the Japanese. Even since, the act changed and is still changing. Since the Ainu people are fighting for their culture, there was an act created called the Cultural Promotion Law of 1997. This law, if it isn’t obvious enough, is helping promote the culture of the Ainu people in which they desperately need. 

The Japanese are severely curious as to how the Ainu people are going to provide funding for this specific act. Being that Ainu people do not have the most money, the committees in order to keep the act going do not even have any members on it that are of Ainu descent. This, in particular, is a crisis at its finest. The Ainu people know that if someone gets in the way of this act then it can severely hurt them as a whole. The Japanese have been out to get the Ainu from the start and they need to fix this problem in order to gain control of their land.

The Ainu people have been fighting for their land for quite some time now and all they want is for the Japanese to back off. The Japanese are these people’s main predators. According to many sites, the Ainu people are only being “hunted” by the Japanese. 

Unique Birth Rituals

For the Ainu people, there were certain things they did when the woman was about to have a child. When it was soon to birth, the delivery room was made on the left side of the fireplace, in which it needed to be set up this way. During birth, the woman held onto a rope that represented a rope for delivery. It was tied to a beam in order to aid in the birthing process. They called this rope the “over-the-shoulder” rope. 

During birth, almost everyone was needed to leave the room, including her husband and any other children. There were only a select few that were allowed inside. One being that elder that was associated with gods such as birth gods, fire gods, and entrance gods. 

When they birth was a difficult one, there were different kinds of ceremonies that were held in a whole bunch of different areas. In one area, the woman who is sitting next to the woman birthing raises the soon to be mother. She then lets her pound on a mortar. This releases sorts of gods in order to aid in the birthing. 

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Picture: http://www.ainu-museum.or.jp/en/study/eng11.html

Sacred Dances of the Ainu

According to what the Ainu people believed in, they thought that every day was made due to the gods’ protecting them every day. They thought the only reason as to why they really existed was because the gods were always looking down and watching over them. It was so important to them that they made sacred dances specifically for these gods. These dances were performed at certain festivals that were made to ensure that all families living in the Ainu villages that they are kept safe and can also peacefully live. Since they danced for the gods, these dances were to exude happiness and also sadness with their gods. 

Some of these dances include one called “upopo,” which was displayed by singers that were sitting. Another type of dance was called “rimse” in which was sung by people dancing. Also, people sit around hitting the lids of “shintoko,” which really set the mood for the Ainu people. This prelude was performed in order to make the occasion very joyful.

Also, according to Ainu people there are dances involving the working people. One of these dances is called the “brewing dance,” in which is symbolizes people that are slaving away cooking and preparing food for everyone. It particularly is focused on grains and rice. Another dance is called the “pounding dance.” This dance is specifically for the pounding of grains in order to make the dishes they make. 

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Pictures: http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/00278

https://www.freshpowder.com/pages/furano/nearby_attractions/asahikawa

References

Pertaining to this specific blog, there were some sites that were certainly useful while some only gave little information. Even though some sites only gave a slim amount of information, it is still information! It is important to always use whatever sites you find, no matter if it is just one sentence that came out of the site! To begin the websites that were used in this blog were:

The next sites are that of academic journal articles:

The last set of sites is that of books written on the Ainu people:

  • Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People
  • Race, Resistance, and the Ainu of Japan
  • The Ainu: A Story of Japan’s Original People

Interview

There was an interview that I was able to have with someone and this someone is the name of a man that is pretty important in the Ainu culture. His name is Koji Yuki, who is the leader of a specific Ainu art project. Below are the questions that were asked to him:

1. Can you tell me about yourself?

  • He replied with the fact that he was born in Hokkaido originally as an Ainu. He said as he was growing up, there was so much bias towards Ainu people that he didn’t like being Ainu one bit. 

2. When did you become understanding to the fact that you were Ainu?

  • He specifically remembers a certain incident in that the people of Ainu were building a ship called “Itaomachibu.” This absolutely caught his interest in which helped the fact that the Ainu people had a sense of connection. While building this ship, Koji felt that he was grateful to be an Ainu because when everyone was building the ship he felt a sense of being at home, in which made him finally realize the importance of being Ainu. 

3. Is there any other traits of Ainu that you remember growing up?

  • Koji replied with talking about the ship again. He specifically remembers the fact that the ship went to a musuem. He was actually very sad when this happened because all of the Ainu people spent a long while building the ship. Seeing the ship go to the museum is when Koji finally realized that he was satisfied being Ainu. He realized who he was as a person and that it was important to embrace yourself as your own kind. 

4. Are there any other random facts or wisdom you would like to share?

  • When that question was asked, he wasn’t exactly sure on what to say but he did state something about the Gods. He said that our life was completely formed by nature. This meaning that without Gods we would be nothing. They’re everywhere around us. He stated simply that everyone just needs to have a broad range of imagination in order to get anywhere in this world of ours. It’s important to think outside the box for that all things unseen are the core of these people. 

To sum up this interview, there were many things that I took into account. One being that fact that this man was full with only wisdom, whether he knew it or not. Everything that he said was inspiring and could definitely open the minds up of a lot of people. Ainu people are still out there and it’s important for everyone to see the cultures that are around us. There are too many different kinds of people in this world for us to completely see passed everyone. The only way to understand people is to explore. Explore the world around us for it is a beautiful yet invisible world to us when we’re sitting so far away. 

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Picture: http://kyotopeaceevents.blogspot.com/

Ainu: Migrations and Diaspora

During the 14th century, the Japanese completely crowded Honshu Island, in which pushed the Ainu people northward. Once they were pushed northward, the Ainu called their homeland ‘Ainimosir’ in which means “the quiet land for humans.” The Ainu did not want to give up their land completely though so they waged three major battles on that Japanese. Although they called these battles for the Japanese, they majorly lost all three of them. Since they lost these battles, they were completely controlled by the Japanese. Since the Ainu were under Japanese control, they had to abide by what the Japanese said and did corresponding to their culture. 

Even though the Japanese want to control Ainu, there was a law passed that was created in order to relieve stress for the Ainu people. This act was called the Ainu Aborigine Protection Act. After the Japanese pushed the Ainu people northward, this is where they primarily stayed for the rest of time.

In the 19th century, about 1,500 Ainu people lived in Russia. Although they lived in Russia, they weren’t exactly accepted there as they would like. After World War II, the Ainu people left on their own, but were kind of pushed to leave anyway. Today, there’s about 100 people that introduce themselves as Ainu people. There about 6 different subgroups of Ainu people in Russia, which are Kamchatka Ainu, Northern Kuril Ainu, Southern Kuril Ainu, Amur Valley Ainu, North Sakhalin Ainu, and Southern Sakhalin Ainu. 

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Picture: http://www.astroset.com/bireysel_gelisim/ancient/a11.htm

Ainu and their Neighbors

There wasn’t much research on the neighbors of Ainu. Since they aren’t very prominent in Japan, the information was difficult to find. Even though there isn’t much information on these people, there was still a little information that I was able to scrape up. One piece of this culture was that they are comparable to that of the Basque people because they speak similar languages. Also, the invading people of the Ainu named them Ezo, which means the unwanted. The Basque word ezonartu is where the word Ezo came from which means ‘to disapprove of’.

There was much research done in order to blog this spot, but nothing was found regarding the Ainu and their neighbors. Although they didn’t exactly get along with Japan as a whole to start, they eventually were allowed to have land of their own. This was the start of their ‘new’ life since it wasn’t always an easy time for them to have land of their own.