Each frame of the manga is a product of scrupulous research by artist Satoru Noda, a Hokkaido native whose work received the 22nd Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Award in 2018.

Masaaki Sasaki, JAPAN Forward

In the icy, silver world of the northern coast of Sakhalin Island, an Ainu girl called Asirpa sips a bowl of ohaw and whispers, “Hinna hinna.”

This scene is from the 17th volume of the popular manga series Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda, published by Shueisha. The story takes place in the northern lands of Hokkaido and Sakhalin during the late Meiji era.

Ohaw means “warm soup” in the Ainu language, and hinna is an expression of gratitude for the food.

The Story

Asirpa and her group board a ship belonging to the indigenous Nivkh people of Sakhalin and succeed in hunting a beluga whale that lives in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk.

They collect driftwood for fire, and simmer the raw beluga whale meat in a large pot with other nutrient-rich ingredients, like potatoes, dried Siberian onion, and soft windflower.

The soup is flavored using the miso provided by Saichi Sugimoto, a hero of the Russo-Japanese War and fellow adventurer, which Asirpa carries around in a magewappa box.

The piping hot Japanese-style kujira-jiru (whale soup) invigorates and warms the body as the characters repeat “hinna hinna” to each other under the wintry sky.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.