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Ainu: Forgotten indigenous people of Japan, part 2

21 Oct

In my previous post I wrote about visiting Ainu Museum in Hokkaido.   Here are some more photos from the museum and information about the Ainu people.

Ainu Life

The Ainu people were hunters, fishermen, farmers, and traders.  They hunted animals such as bear and deer, fished swordfish on a small boat, grew various crops, gathered wild plants in the mountains, and traded with the ethnic Japanese and the surrounding countries.

Ainu man and woman (640x505)

Ainu Art

The Ainu made various kinds clothes out of animal skins, feathers, and cottons. They also made various jewelries.   Long necklaces shown in the picture below are called “tamasay” using glass balls, some of which were brought through trade with the Asian continent.

Ainu clothing (394x640)

Ainu clothing

Ainu clothing2 (433x640)

Ainu traditional costume

Ainu costume 2 (640x360)

Ainu winter clothing

Ainu winter clothing

Ainu jewelry

Ainu jewelry

Women’s Tattoo

When women reached age 12-13, the lips, hands and arms were tattooed. They used soot from burnt birch bark and a small knife for tattooing.  It took years to build up tattoos, because it accompanied pain and injuries.  Only when the cut was healed, another layer of tattoo was added.  When they reached age 15-16, their tattoos were completed, which was a sign that they were ready for marriage.  Tattoo was an important aspect of spirituality for the Ainu, but it was banned by the Japanese government.  Female lip tattoo was officially outlawed in 1871.

Tattooed Ainu woman Photo by PD

Tattooed Ainu woman
Photo by PD

Tattooed Ainu woman Photo by Joseph Deniker

Tattooed Ainu woman
Photo by Joseph Deniker

Ainu People Today

Today there is no Ainu woman with tattoos on their lips nor are there any Ainu living in a traditional way.  Much of their culture is lost.    However, in recent years there is a movement calling for the revitalization of Ainu culture.  The older Ainu people are teaching the young their traditional dance, songs, and stories, and more and more young Ainu are studying their traditional language.

Reference:

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3 Responses to “Ainu: Forgotten indigenous people of Japan, part 2”

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  1. Ainu: Forgotten indigenous people of Japan | Discover Japan - November 6, 2013

    […] Ainu: Forgotten indigenous people of Japan, part 2 (discoverjapannow.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Ainu and Spirituality: Forgotten indigenous people of Japan, part 3 | Discover Japan - November 21, 2013

    […] Ainu: Forgotten indigenous people of Japan, part 2 (discoverjapannow.wordpress.com) […]

  3. Iyomante: Sacred ceremony of the Ainu ~ forgotten indigenous people of Japan, part 4 | Discover Japan - January 27, 2014

    […] Ainu: Forgotten indigenous people of Japan, part 2 (discoverjapannow.wordpress.com) […]

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