The Ainu (Aynu) people and culture are very fascinating, but unfortunately not many know about it or how is it related to Japan.

Recently, due to the anime series Golden Kamuy, that has grown in popularity overseas, as well, Ainu Culture is starting to gather more attention worldwide and many visitors are now including the Ainu sites and tourist spots in their itineraries.

Who are the Ainu?

Ainu people have been also known under the name of 蝦夷 (Ezo) and are an indigenous population with interesting customs, culture, and history that is said to have originated by combining Jomon, Okhotsk cultures and Satsumon, the post-Jomon culture together.

It is said they are the descendants of the Jomon population, but their genetics are still not clear.

Compared to Japanese people, Ainu have more body hair and a light skin tone, in case of full blood Ainu. Many have broad faces and men are said to be very hairy.

Some studies say Caucasians, some Northern Asia, many find similarities between the Mongoloid traits and Ainu features, but the most similar resemblance is with Chukchi population of the Arctic area.

Ainu were based in Hokkaido and the Northeast region of Japan, but unfortunately nowadays many don’t know about their origins as a result of being assimilated in Japanese society.

Language and Culture

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. 続いて#北海道アイヌ。 ①②アットゥシ(左) チヂリ(右)の着物。 アイヌの衣類は地域によって 獣毛皮、魚皮を用いるところもありますが、 木の内皮の繊維を織った#アットゥシ は、 北海道全域のアイヌによって着用されました。 普段着には文様はあまりありませんが、 晴れ着はこれに和人から手に入れた布を縫い付けて 刺繍をほどこしたものになります。 (柄の織物は作られない)。 . アットゥシは基本平民が着るもので、 コタンコロクル(首長)クラスの人物は、 舶来品の布の衣や、#蝦夷錦 を着ていました。 時代が下って布が豊富に手に入るようになると、 #チカラカラペ や#ルウンペ のように 木綿の布にアイヌ文様をアップリケし刺繍したもの、 #チヂリ のように木綿の布に文様を直接入れたものなどが生まれます。 アイヌ文様の#モレウ(渦巻き文)や#アイウシ(括弧文)は 地域によって特色があり母から娘へと伝えるもので、 魔除けの意味もありました。 (アイヌ文様についての地域差は色々聞き取り調査や 絵画などに描かれたものから研究されているものの、 これ!という確定的な実態は分かっていないようです。 イラストにする時困るなー😅) . . ③アイヌの頭巾 ④カンジキ ⑤北海道アイヌのマキリ 常用の小刀。 ⑥漁具(左) 銛頭(右/もりがしら)、海獣用のもの。 ⑦祭具。#イナウ と盆。 ⑧盆。こういったものは一木をくりぬいたもので、 儀礼用贈答用とのこと。 注目すべきは中央上部の割れ目を鹿の角で繋ぎ、 修復してあるところ😳‼️ 金継ぎならぬ、鹿🦌継ぎ‼️ . . ⑨🥢&🥄&シトペラ(団子ベラ) んんっ? この箸って#一木造り 😳? . ⑩背負い縄、提げ籠、片口 、貝包丁 . . #北海道 #渡島 #アイヌ #蝦夷 #民芸 #民具 #木彫り #彫刻 #手仕事 #北方民族 #少数民族 #アイヌ文様 #カムイ #民俗学 #歴史 #日本史 #トーハク #東京国立博物館 #ainu #hokkaido

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Their Language and culture are very different from Japanese and unfortunately, there are not many people who can speak Ainu language anymore.

As they are an important part of the history, there have been efforts made to keep the language from being extinct and revive it, but the people who can speak and understand Ainu language are so few you can count them on two hands.

What is interesting about the Ainu customs and personally left me in awe was the tradition of tattooing your mouth and forearms as a woman.

I mentioned above that Ainu men were hairy, but one of their traditions was not to shave after reaching a certain age, so seeing the men with big beards and long mustaches was something normal for their people.

While men used chopsticks, women used spoons made out of wood.

Hunting for wildlife (bears, deer, etc), fishing and making ornaments as part of their culture.

If you read or watched Golden Kamuy, you already know that Ainu used to hunt bears that hibernate and they were all animists of religion.

The Ainu population used to believe everything has a spirit, therefore the word Kamuy, which means God in Ainu language.

Ainu Culture Nowadays

Here are a few of the locations I recommend to visit if you want to know more about the interesting culture of the Ainu population:

  • The National Ainu Museum in Shiraoi, Hokkaido (国立アイヌ民族博物館, Kokuritsu Ainu Minzoku Hakubutsukan)
  • Kawamura Kaneto Ainu Museum
  • Ainu Kotan
  • Hokkaido Museum of Northern people
  • Ainu Folklore Museum in Abashiri, Hokkaido

In Japan, especially Hokkaido, you can also taste Ainu Cuisine or try out their sake.

For those interested in purchasing the traditional Ainu drink, you can do so from Tanakashuzo Japan Shop.

Golden Kamuy and Ainu

Golden Kamuy is a manga, based on a real story, recently adapted into an anime recognized worldwide, currently with 2 seasons out and the third season to be released.

The manga and anime grew in popularity not only in Japan but internationally and made people more aware of the unique Ainu culture that has started to fascinate people all around the world.

One of the characters of Golden Kamuy, the girl of Ainu origins, Asirpa has been featured in the British Museum Exhibition banner poster (link here).

The manga/anime have been so popular in Japan that beer cans and soft drinks have the characters imprinted on and the Japanese market even used the series to promote Marvel’s SpiderMan: Far From Home Movie to the audience.


By - cinnamonellie.