T H E    A I N U    P E O P L E 

The Ainu is a very interesting people concerning the matriarchal subject of this website, as their archaic hunter and gather - traditions have been more or less well preserved since paleolithic times as well as the Goddess /nature related mythology and rituals that goes along with it, mainly created, performed and transmitted by the women, with many features remaining into rescent times that might be indications of earlier matriarchal traditions.

 

According to the so-called Yukar Upopo Ainu legend  "The Ainu lived in this place 100,000 years before the `Children of the Sun´”. And three thousands years ago the Ainu homeland was invaded by these  "Children of the Sun", which most supposedly must refer to the people from Southeast Asia who eventually settled the Japanese mainland and southern islands and worshipped the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. From whoever it was as well as when, the Ainu eventually were enslaved, killed and driven from their lands, finally finding refuge in the northern Islands of Japan, where they from the end of the 19th century and the Reji regim was subject to mere ethnic cleansing.

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The Ainu, also called Aynu, Aino, and in historical texts Ezo, are a indigenous people in Japan and Russia, and accordning to Japanese archeologists the first hunter and gatherer to settle in Japan coming down from the north via the island of Sakhalin c:a 16 -14 000 years ago, being the same as the so called japaneese Jomon - people, nowadays living in the territory which includes the northern Japanese Island of Hokkaido, and up until recent days also at the southern tip of Sakhalin Island, the Kuriles chain of islands and the southern tip of Kamchatka peninsula. But nowadays they seem to be more or less extinct or assimilated with surrounding peoples in these Russian places, after WWII they were also moved to the Hokkaido Island by the Japaneese).

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Ainu people from the Kuriles

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Ainu people living on Sachalin, photo from 1903

While there still were some Ainu left living a traditional paleolithic life on the islands of Sachalin and the Kuriles, Robert Briffault and som other anthropologists luckily were in time to make their reports from their traditions, which due to their even more remote and isolated settlements than the Japanese Ainus´ (who by then have had their culture heavily damaged by the Japanese harsh assimilation methods), had preserved its archaic hunter-fisher-gathererer features from thousands of years up until recent days and thereby also the typical matriarchal / egalitarian socio-cultural pattern of the deep-structure  that seems mostly to go along with it, contrary to what has been taken for granted among the biased male stream archeologists /anthropologists in the Western learned world.

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As school books and scientific treaties alike characterise the Paleolithic as being stereotypical patriarchal, the lifestyle of the Aino-culture therefore have been useful as a living example, in the investigations of ancient Paleolithic culture being patriarchal or not, thus making a challenge to such scholars as for example Briffault, who question the biased male stream worldview. Not very surprisingly did he thereby discover several traits in the Ainu traditional lifestyle which indicates a former typical matriarchal pattern according to the definition by Dr Heide Göttner Abendroth, which eventually might have been weakened, especially so in Japan where the aggressive politics of assimilation since long have comprised mere ethnic cleansing.

 

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Ainu women from Sachalin in the beginning of the 20th century

Historically, they spoke Ainu and related varieties. Most of those who identify themselves as Ainu still live in this same region, though the exact number of living Ainu is unknown. This is due to confusion over mixed heritages and to ethnic issues in Japan resulting in those with Ainu backgrounds hiding their identities. Intermarriage with Japanese has blurred the concept of a pure Ainu ethnic group. Official estimates of the population are of around 25,000, while the unofficial number is upward of 200,000 people.

Samma politik som i USA och samer.

In this photograph taken 2012, Japan's indigenous Aibu people show their folk dancing at Nibutani Ainu Suseum at Biratori, Hokkaido. Shiro Kayano, president of Nibutani Ainu Museum, whose ambitious bid to win 10 parliamentary seats for the newly created Ainu Party in next year's national elections, as well as vast land claims for his people, is the latest move aimed at boosting recognition for what was once a hunter-gatherer society in Japan's northernmost Hokkaido. AFP PHOTO / Toshifumi KITAMURA

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Group of Ainu people from Sakhalin, Photograph 1902

THE ORIGIN OF THE AINU

 

In the cultural era of the Jomon period 16500-4500 BC (or even before) it was the indigenous Aino who populated the whole Island and lay the cultural foundation to its Shinto-religious practices. In the Middle Jomon phase (4500- 2000 B.C.E.) this people became sedentary and developed agriculture (arid rice-growing) and made beautiful ceramics and a multitude of artistic goddess figurines called the dogu figurines, which most probably were made by women, while men built stone circles in the form of sun-docks. These are features  typical for the Neolithic societies all over this Southeast area in Asia (and so even for many other Neolithic societies all over the world) and this period is furthermore regarded as Japan´s classical matriarchal epoch, with queens ruling the land together with their subordinated deputy sons / brothers, in the same way as also were the case in Korea by that time. It is though somewhat unclear to me from the information I have got, whether the Ainu was a part of the agricultural development or kept on to their hunter gatherer traditions during this period.

 

Fig 3 Ceramic figurine

Ceramic figurine found at the Motowanishi site near Muroran, Hokkaido. It has been dated to 700 – 400 BC, from the Final Jomon period.

According to Japanese anthropologists studying the culture on Ryukyu Islands, to which Okinawa belongs, the people on these islands, have due to their remoteness, also preserved a traditional lifestyle  characteristic of life in ancient Japan with significant matriarchal traits in its Shinto-veneration. It seems, though, as if the Ainu in the northern part of Japan never interbred with the people in the more southern parts, which eventually  was settled by Yayoi peoples from Southeast Asia (See the map below!) mixing with some of the southern Ainu people, bringing some of their typical matriarchal Goddess veneration traditions into the country for to eventually become integrated in the more popular Shinto-relogion as for example the sister- brother couple Iszanami and Izanagi  and the worshipping of the sun Goddess Amaterasu.

 

(I have still not succeeded to find out whether the Ainu also shared this worship of the Sun Goddess. From this painting to judge  it looks like it to me, but unfortunately there is no explanation in this article of what the motive represents.)

Fig-4-Ainu-myth

This Ainu-e (literally means paintings of the Ainu by Japanese), was painted by Murakami Shimanojo in Curious Sights of Ezo Island (1799). It depicts one of several origin myths of the Ainu. Japanese children still taunt Ainu children by chanting, “Ainu are dogs.” Children do not think of discriminatory taunts by themselves, they learn from adults.

Quoting Heide Göttner Abendroth; Matriarchal Societies Studies on Indigenous Cultures Across the Globe, p. 148

"In the Yayoi perid (300 B.C.E. -300 C.E.) the cultural isolation of the Jomon period ended with  the arrival of immigrants from the south. Foreign people with fully developed agriculture reached Japan and brought with them new material technologies; diversified forms of agriculture combined with hunting and fishing, continousley used settlements, refined pottery and artifacts of ritual use and bronze metallurgi. The bronze artifacts include weapons (spears and swords) bells and mirrors. From South China the matriarchal clans and tribes of the maritime Yeh culture, whose culture still is seen today in the Yao, Tao and Miao settled the Philippines and Taiwan, sailed along the coast to South Korea, and along the Ryukyu Islands to South Japan Additionally, from the northern Chinese mainland, and from Korea came immigrants who were fleeing the patriarchalisation of Eastern China by the Han people (480-221 B.C.E)" There they encountered  the Ainu from the north, who simply seemed to have avoided too much contact with the newcomers retreating farther north, and it doesn´t either seem to have been much conflict between the cultures in most of Japan by then. The newcomers brought the rice paddy culture and the cultivation of garden produce; they domesticated animals and built the the same kind of great megalith constructions in Korea and Japan. With the Yaoi peoples of Japan the East Asian proportion was most heavily represented, which related them to the oldest South Asian peoples."

 

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Quoting the article: The Ainu and Their Culture: A Critical Twenty-First Century Assessment:

 

"While DNA evidence makes the Jomon/Ainu relationship clear, the arts of any indigenous group are their visual literature. DNA findings have validated the belief of art historians that the combined age of Ainu/Ainu art makes it one of the longest continuous art traditions in the world. Of course DNA is not the final answer; future study of the history of art and culture must be based on a multi-disciplinary approach. Lastly, the DNA findings throw into dispute the arbitrary assigning of the date of origin of the Ainu as the 14th century BCE. Worse, many archaeologists have put the Okhotsk, Satsumon, and Epi-Jomon cultures in separate categories, even though the art, spiritual beliefs and ceremonies appear the same."

 

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"Another origin myth that is losing credibility is the belief that the Ainu are some kind of lost tribe of Caucasians. The myth was created by early European scholars from the mid-nineteenth century, and because this was a respected view of Europeans, the myth can still be found as fact in some textbooks and reference books. There is some legitimate basis for the ‘mistake.’ The Ainu of the period looked nothing like the Japanese. The Ainu were muscular with skin tones similar to the darker French or Italians. They were very hairy, with thick and wavy hair, luxurious beards, and abundant body hair. Eye color was mostly brown, but could be ‘bluish’ or ‘greenish,’ no doubt a Russian influence. Most importantly, the very young were reported not to have the Mongolian ‘blue’ spot on their lower back. Today, because of intermarriage with the Japanese, the above features are not always present, but I have very thick wavy hair and in the summer I get a very dark tan, my eyes have a more European look, and my body build is somewhat muscular. For all these reasons during my youth I was subject to verbal taunts of “dojin.” While the dictionary meaning is “native,” it is often used as a pejorative term.

 

When most people think of Jomon, it is their pottery that first comes to mind, especially the highly imaginative vessels with designs made with twined cords. As the Ainu-Japanese art history comparatist Chisato (“Kitty”) Dubreuil,  has shown in the article: The Ainu and Their Culture: A Critical Twenty-First Century Assessment these designs are remarkably similar to traditional Ainu designs. More important to her work are the lesser-known Jomon humanoid clay figurines that featured Ainu style clothing with Ainu-like designs, also placed where they are found on traditional Ainu robes.

After eventually having been enslaved and oppressured by warlike patriarchal invaders (or indigenous clan-leaders of the Jomon - people who has become warlike an patriarchalised) the Ainu eventually had to flee from the mainland to the islands in the North. The southern and northern cultures were thereby separated and developed in partly very different manners, albeit both of them since then have continued to hold on to more or less outspoken matriarchal traditions from the ancient Jomon-culture and its more popular Shinto-veneration, at least in the culture of the southern Ryukyu islands and Okinawa. In the middle Jomon Period classical matriarchy with queens as ....

 

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Thus, the Aino people in the northern Hokkaido and the Ryukyu-people people on the southern island Okinawa are considered to share the same Jomon origin, later mixed in different ways with the Yaoi-people and others.

 

Although these findings of late DNA research, I think it is still a mystery from where the primordial origin of the Ainus might be, as its obvious from their physical appearance, that they represent some kind of distinguished people, in relation to the rest of the contemporary Japanese people, not at least considering their rich, thick and wavy hair, why the former Japanese derogatory used to call them "Hairy Ainu". But to the spiritual Ainus themselves, whose complete existence is permeated by spirits; so-called "Kamuys" (its from this original Jomon / Ainu word that the Japanese word "Kami" is supposed to has its origin) even the hair has been viewed upon as  integrated in the sacred world and to be something like the "entrance" for the "Kamuis" to get in contact with the spirits of the human beings. I have my own theories about this having its origin in the need of keeping warm up on the northern laitudes from which the Ainu seem to have originated. (I will return to this later under the heading; Ainu Religion)

 

In this video its claimed that the Ainus are genetically related to the black people on the Andamon - island outside the Indian eastcoast, but that doesn´t  seem specially tenable, although one must indubitable question whether their DNA might not have somewhat closer genetical relation to african DNA, as is the case among so many other islanders around the coast of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. That this seems to be an infected issue, though, is understandable as the racism against black people in Asia is perhaps even worse than in the West.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY "Japan-Russia-diplomacy-Kuril-native,FEATURE" by Shingo Ito
Female dancers, descendants of Ainu people, perform traditional rituals to thank their God and nature for a large catch at a theatre in Lake Akan, in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, 15 August 2007. Amid a long stalemate between Japan and Russia over four disputed islands, another player is striving to be heard, the Ainu people, who were the indigenous inhabitants. The Ainu, an ethnically distinct people who have long faced discrimination, 14 September 2007 are hoping to win new dignity by having a say in the fate of the four Russian-ruled islands near Japan's northern coast.       AFP PHOTO / Shingo ITO (Photo credit should read SHINGO ITO/AFP/Getty Images)
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Female dancers, descendants of Ainu people, perform traditional rituals  at a theatre in Lake Akan, in Hokkaido, 2007.

This is really confusing, though, as while looking at the Russian peoples at the islands outside the Russian east coast and in Siberia as for example the Kariakhs and the Nivkhs, you get astonished how many African "negroid" features you might find even in their physical appearence. These peoples have also a lot of cultural features in common with the Ainus; as for example the worshipping of the bear, the hearth / fire and the salmon etc as well as their typical matrilineal customs and  women being engaged in the shaman traditions (According to Briffault at al)

 

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A group of Nivkh people in Russia

Looking around in the djungle of information in the cyberspace, you can find quite a lot of articles, blogs and videos about the investigations made of the Ainu people´s DNA,  as for example this video above. Looking in the field of comments  below, you at once get a glimpse of how infected this issue is by the Japanese / Ainu peoples themselves.

I don´t know which one to recommend. But perhaps this article is the most reliable  I have found.

 

Heritage of Japan
Discovering the Historical Context and Culture of the People of Japan

The map below might also be of some help to get an approximate notion of what it all is about. although the language categorisation used in this example is very much critizised.

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Skärmavbild 2017-02-04 kl. 14.14.33

T H E    J A P A N E S E    S H I N T O   R E L I G I ON

 

Emerging from the Neolithic period c:a 4500 B.C.E and continuously being developed up until the Iron Age about 600 C.E., the Shinto-religion, has a long history. This first period the original shinto was represented by the Miko; the tribal priestesses, inheriting their office and holding the entire spectrum of religious practice in their hand. But from the Middle Ages until Japan´s modern period (7th - 19th century) the Shinto-Religion was formalised to a State Shinto, which accompanied many centuries of forced centralisation and patriarchalisation in Japan.

PhD Susan Gail has studied this religion, but I don´t find any papers by her online.

This formalised State Shinto of the emperors and officials was separated from popular Shinto, though, which became an unofficial folk religion. In both of them women still were employed as Miko shamans, although not exclusively in the state-run Shinto. In this men were made official priests, but with female names and clothes.

Later int the course of the intensified centralisation process of the nationalistic, misogynist Meiji Restoration and Period ( 1868-1912 ) women were excluded from all officially recognised priestly functions and the office of Miko in popular Shinto lost many of its earlier duties. State Shinto had to be “cleansed” of all magic and religious elements and was dedicated to State ceremonial functions only. It was developed to legitimate imperial mastery and often forced upon ordinary Japanese and colonised people.

The oppression of the Aino-people looks very much the same of what the oppression has been to the more or less matriarchal native peoples everywhere, not at least in China where they all of them have had to flee the increasing patriarchalisation in the bördiga central parts around the big rivers to ever more remote and inaccessible places up in the mountains or to deserted islands far out in the sea, as for example has been the case with the people (See the map!) . And its not hard to understand that one under such harsh circumstances has to become somewhat of an expert of survival techniques, of which the knowledge mainly were kept in hand by the women. And that´s why its neither hard to understand these people´s so frequently uphold veneration of an ancestral mother /Goddess who took them out ”on the long journey” - often even - ”out on the sea”.

 

 

THE JAPANESE COLONIALISTIC IMPERIALISTIC OBLITERATION OF THE AINU CULTURE ON HOKKAIDO

 

Starting in 1870 fishing salmon in the rivers was prohibited and 1871, the Ainu were forced to adopt Japanese surnames created by the government officials such as Hirame, Hiranuma, Kaizawa, Kawanano , Kayano, Kurokawa and Nabesawa.

As salmon was the staple food of the Ainu, and therefore essential for the survival of  the long winters up in the north surrounded by cold ocean currents, resulting in a sub-arctic climate, very unlike southern Japan, with long winters lasting from November to Maj in the sea, prohibiting fishing salmon meant the same as ethnic cleansing.

It also inflicted the Ainu´s culture severely as salmon was close related to their spirituality, as sacrifice in their many sacred rituals to the Gods / Goddesses. From now on they were arrested for poaching in the land they had inherited from their ancestors. It has been the same old story as everywhere else among those native peoples, who don´t have the concept of ”private land” and therefore are being robbed of it by capitalist patriarchalists looking upon them as backwards striving objects in the need of their assimilation projects into modernity.

The use of the traditional Ainu poison arrows and planted bows was prohibited in 1876 and hunting deer became illegal 1889

As part of the assimilation process, the Japanese government strongly recommended the Ainu to engage themselves in farming and giving up hunting and fishing and after themselves had taken over these rights the deer hunt soon took gigantic proportions, not as the Ainus always had done, respecting the ecological interrelated balance among the species.

After the Japanese themselves having taken over all the hunting and fishing rights and rapidly over-explouted the resources, and almost extencted the deers.

From the ongoing patriarechalisation process starting around 300 C.E from either the inherit

 

A I N U   L I F E   &   R E L I G I ON

One of the strangest Ainu habit is the cult of the bear. Bears are considered powerful spirits which can act on the benefit of the people. When Ainu manage to capture a bear cub, a woman is charged to take care of it as if a child: the little bear lives and grows amongst the people of the village, getting accustomed to them. When it is 2-3 years old, the bear is sacrificed. The men drink its blood to get its power, and then they cut the head off and then fly the skin of the bear. Later, during family ceremonies, the bear skin occupies a prominent place, and food and drink is offered to it like to an honored guest. The bear was considered by the Ainu the mythological hero that taught them to fish, hunt, weave and so on.

Ainu lived in rectangular huts with walls and roof made of bundles of reed and rush. Ainu live in a clime where snowed winter can last 6-7 months annually, and the summer is extremely rainy; the heat source is the fire burning in a cavity dug into the ground. As these huts lack chimneys, the smoke filled the room and was released just through a small hole made on the roof. Over the fire, there was a kind of grill on which meat and fish were put for drying on time. Next to the door, the water bucket and the home tools were located.

The family slept over platforms made of wood covered with rush mats, and as they did not have bed linen, they slept dressed. As the house had just two windows, and one of them was sacred and never opened, the scents of the dry meat and fish and that of the human bodies mixed with the smoke and made those huts not very attractive.

The Ainu religion was "animist": all the beings and many natural objects (rivers, volcanoes, fire, lightning, trees, etc) were endowed with a spirit. When a living being dies, only the material part is gone; the spirit is freed and this spirit can be good or evil, harming living beings, including people. To avoid the actions of the evil spirits, Ainu used to work on wood coarse representations of the spirits, with a human form, called inaos. Today, inaos are simple sticks made by cuts of a knife. The inaos are thrust into the ground, inside the huts, close to the sea, on the cross of the roads, next to sacred trees and they are like prayers of the Ainu aimed to the superior spirits, asking for their protection.

Women were largely independent and went to war and could manifest their opinions during the councils of the village. Ainu women adorned their hands, forehead, arms and mouth outline with blue tattoos (as said, for mimicking mustaches).

Women worked the fields, gathered wood, cooked, span, wove, made clothes, cared and educated the kids. Children were treated severely and even if crying, nobody gave then the least attention. Inside the houses, they were put into a wooden cradle hung on a beam. Outside, they were transported in a type of bag which the mother or a major sister hung at the back, using a fabric strip passing over the head.

The Ainu women weave mats, bags, nets and a type of fabric using elm bark. The bark is soaked and left until softening and large, thin threads can be removed. The women wind them in balls, later woven in coarse looms. This yellowish fabric is dyed with bright colors and from it women make large tunics with wide sleeves, adorned with beautiful embroidery motifs. The tunics are secured at the waist with leather girdles and brass appliqus. During the winter, over this tunic, a type of sleeveless jacket made of animal skins is worn. In the past, both women and men wore leather trousers, but now they use cotton pants. Bark leggings and leather moccasins completed the Ainu getup. For walking over the snow, they used skis and snowshoes.

The most important person in the Ainu village was the shaman, the person treating with the spirits. The shaman had, in his service, other animal spirits, which, at his will, helped him in his spells, and with whose help the shaman discovered the causes of the malfunctions of the villagers and took remedy against them. His main function was to cure the diseases.

When asked for help, the shaman wait for the sunset; in that moment, he approached the ill person, played a bass drum to call the evil spirits that produced the ailment, agitated his wand, with sound yells invoked the spirits of the animals that help him, danced in an uncontrolled way and, in the end, he fell in trance; at his 'return', before the amazed eyes of the assistance, he extracted, out of the body of the patient (using a skilled trick), the cause of the disease: a stick, a stone, a small toad or an insect. Once this operation was executed, the healing was immediate. However, if the patient died (fact that often occurred), this was due to the subsequent intervention of an evil spirit.

When an Ainu dies, his family ignite a large bonfire inside his hut and sends messengers for informing his friends and remote relatives. When they have arrived, the burial is done. The corpse is exposed with its best clothes, but torn and cut in various places; at its side, his goods are disposed, all crumbled or broken. Sacrifices and libations are offered to the spirits, so that they will welcome the spirit of the dead; the family celebrate a great funerary banquet and, next day, the body wrapped in a mat is buried. The tomb is marked by a small mound and a wood and bamboo post crowned with a kind of an arrow, if the dead was a man, and with a rounded point, if the dead was a woman. Of which post, a frayed strip hangs. The strip was previously used by the defunct to hold his/her hair.

The base of the Ainu economy was represented by fishing, both in the sea and freshwater. On the beaches, they collected crabs, lobsters, scallops, mussels, oysters and even turtles. During the winter, fishing was made through holes in the frozen rivers. During the summer, fishing was made using nets, rods, hooks and harpoons, especially in the case of the salmons which ascended the rivers in large number for spawning. One fisherman thrust the fish with the harpoon, and another finished it up at the bank of the river, with a mace. The harpoon's detachable tip was anointed with poison.

Ainu used monoxylon (made of one trunk) canoes, 8 m (26 ft) long and 0.5 m (1.5 ft) wide. The most peculiar Ainu fishing was with dogs. A great number of dogs were trained for this; they brought the captured fish to the shore. Usually, the Ainu employed two dog teams made of 20-30 individuals. At a signal, the dogs, found at a 200 m (660 ft) distance one from the other, swam in columns into the sea and, at another signal, the two groups approached each other, heading the shore. The fish caught in the middle were headed to the shore, frightened with the noise made by the dogs. In shallow waters, the dogs captured them easily with their mouth. The dogs were recompensed with fish heads.

Ainu used to hunt seals, walruses and whales. They always cooked their food on embers. Traditional food consisted of chestnuts mixed with fish eggs. Dishes were made of tree bark and food was kept in wooden recipients.

For hunting, men use bow and envenomed arrows and a type of crossbow similar to the Medieval one used in Europe. The arrows are envenomed using a special substance kept in a bamboo quiver worn over the shoulder. These weapons and dogs are used for hunting deer and bears. Traps are used for catching birds and hares. Traps using venomous arrows are also used for killing bears and dears.

Bear was the most appreciated game. Specially trained dogs approached the den where the animal spent the winter. The dogs forced the bear out, the moment when the hunters shot their arrows. The greatest trophy was a living cub, brought as described to the Ainu village, to be raised and sacrificed.

 

9. These people are kind and friendly; foreign visitors are welcomed as long as they follow their complex etiquette. When entering into an Ainu house, the visitor must emit a strong throat clearing and if invited to enter, he/she must leave the footwear before the door and, bare footed, he/she will go to seat next to the fire. The owner of the house will offer him/her a pipe tobacco and a cup of sake (a type of rice wine, similar to that processed by the Japanese). Sake drinking is a veritable ceremony, employing large painted wooden cups or bowls and, on a tray, they offer the guest finely cut sticks. The sticks are used by the Ainu for lifting their mustaches while drinking, because they are so large and dense that they enter into the dishes, fact considered to be bad manners.

The Ainu are an indigenous ethnic group of people who live in Hokkaido in Japan today as well as in Russia (the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin). In the 19th Century, Japanese people called the northern island of Hokkaido “Ezochi” which means “Land of the Ainu”. The term Ainu generally referred to the fair-skinned, long-haired hunter-gatherer-fishering people with animistic beliefs who had lived there for hundreds of years.

From the 15th century, waves of Japanese settlers began crowding out Ainu communities on Honshu island and pushing them northwards. The settlers also brought infectious diseases that caused Ainu populations to fall. Ainu land was redistributed to Japanese farmers.

 

Map showing location of Ainu populations
In 1899, the Japanese government passed an act which labelled the Ainu “former Aborigines”, ostensibly declaring that the Ainu had been integrated into the Japanese population – the act, together with the various assimilation policies had the drastic effect of eroding Ainu identity and traditions. The Meiji government’s 1899 assimilation policies resulted in the ban of the Ainu language and Ainu children being given Japanese names and put into Japanese schools. As a result of these policies, many Ainu people suffered discrimination and became ashamed of their language and culture. The act continued for a hundred years.

The 1899 act was finally officially reversed on June 6th, 2008, when the Japanese government passed a resolution adopt a resolution that, for the first time, formally recognised the Ainu as “an indigenous people who have their own language, religion and culture”.

Today only small numbers of Ainu remain, and they constitute one of Japan’s most marginalised groups. The Ainu are thought to number around 25,000 (official sources) while unofficially, they are believed to number around 200,000 or more since many Ainu still do not disclose their roots out of fear of discrimination.

Origins: Where did the Ainu come from?

The pink place is Hokkaido.Top of green area is Touhoku.They called Hokkaido land "Quiet land of human".

Their religion is nature worship with some typical matriarchal Goddess veneration featues.(Origin of Shinto)

KAMI 神 means "gods" in Japanese language.
This word is derived from Ainu language "KAMUI"

Ainu people named nature as Goddesses and Gods.
River is god.
Mountain is god.
Land is god.
In addition,all things were treated as gods.
Their concepts are correct.
All substances/materials has divinity because these things came from Earth.(Sacred mother earth)
So,they are precious primitive people to prove Japanese Shinto.
In Shinto,the top of the nature god is the Sun.
(God of the Sun = Amaterasu Ohomikami)

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Japanese language is really interesting.
There are many words that have same sounds.

髪Kami = Hair
神Kami = God/Gods
pronunciation is different but these words have a strong similarity.
Hair is important YORISHIRO.
Yorishiro means a kind of adsorption/assimilation by nature gods.
Gods approach our body,especially hair and beard.

Please cherish your hair.
Don't dye your natural beautiful hair if you can.
Scalp is connected to our genital organ.
Hair dye may cause women's diseases.

Miko are young women workers in Japanese shrines.(Young women only)
They have long black hair to catch nature god's divinity.
Meanwhile,Buddhist priests shave their head.
They don't need hair because they are not shaman.

In ancient time,Miko was main prime shaman of Shinto.
Shinto's basic history was created by women.
But now,main priests in shrines are men

miko_at_shimogamo_jinja
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There is true traditional style of Shinto in Okinawa.(Southern Japan)
It is called Ryukyu-Shinto and the top of priest is woman.
Ryukyu-Shinto cherishes the Sun and Sun rising place(east) as much as Shinto does.
Top of Miko(NORO) always carry incense burner bowl.

noro

She was NORO.(Main priest in Ryukyu-Shinto)

In ancient Shinto,incense smoke was vital things.
Nature worship + Incense smoke power = True Shinto

Ainu people in northern Japan and Okinawan people in southern Japan are same.
They were orthodox Japanese.True Shinto believer.
They never wish private greed things to gods.
They just dedicate thankful heart to great nature.

shiraoi-ainu-musuem-and

In the cultural era of the Jomon period 16500-4500 BC (or even before) it was the indigenous Aino who populated the whole Island. It was not until the Middle Jomon phase (4500- 2000 B.C.E.) this people became sedentary and developed agriculture (arid rice-growing) and made beautiful ceramics and a multitude of artistic goddess figurines called the dogu figurines, which most probably were made by women, while men built stone circles in the form of sun-docks; all these traits typical for the Neolithic phase, which furthermore was Japan´s classical matriarchal epoch.

According to Japanese anthropologists studying the culture on Ryukyu Islands, to which Okinawa belongs, the island life has due to its remoteness, preserved traditional ways of life characteristic of life in ancient Japan with significant matriarchal traits  in its shinto

 

due to the enslaving and oppressur by the warlike patriarchal invaders (or indigenous clans of the y , had to flee from the mainland to the Island in the North.

 

The Anio-people is a very special kind of people that still int the 20th carried to strong matriarchal and / or matriarchal traits in the sense of the world “matriarchal” that you can finds here;

 

The jomon-culture was represented by there Shinto religion led by a theocracy of Miko -pristesses / shamans. The is
Hark Okano has written an overview of worm and their changing role in Shinto: Summary; Women in Shinto (Die Steeling der Frau in Shinto, 1976

 

"Some 55 scholars, mostly Japanese but with a considerable number from the US and Europe, write about the ethnicity, theories of origin, history, economies, art, religious beliefs, mythology, and other aspects of the culture of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, now principally found in Hokkaido and smaller far northern islands. Hundreds of photographs and paintings, mostly in excellent quality color, show a wide variety of Ainu people, as well as clothing, jewelry, and various artifacts." - Choice"The most in-depth treatise availableon Ainu prehistory, material culture, and ethnohistory." - Library Journal
Stone tools and weapons of the Yayoi people were soon supplemented by bronze ones emanating from North China. With a superior culture and armament these newcomers found it possible to advance slowly northward against Ainu and eventually push them out of Honshu.

Japanese pearl divers

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