Cultural Origins, History, Practices & Beliefs of Ainu:
Hopkins Art Center Study Guide (for Schools & Teachers)
Click here for the Study Guide PDF
PBS NOVA Programming – Origins of the Ainu
The Japan Times
During the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the Japanese government enacted a policy intended to develop Hokkaido that displaced the indigenous Ainu people and robbed them of their ethnic heritage by forcing them to assimilate into Japanese culture. However, one young Ainu woman helped to keep that heritage alive. Her story is told this week on NHK's history documentary show, "Sono Toki Rekishi ga Ugoita" (The Time History Changed; NHK-G, Wed., 10 p.m.). http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2008/10/12/tv/tv-champions-return-and-kamiji-the-clown-takes-on-a-drama/#.UoE7rRZBSG8
Collection from the Ainu and the Amur Area
Benedek Baráthosi Balogh, a school teacher from Hungary, first became fascinated with the Ainu people during a visit in 1908. The Museum of Ethnography in Budapest offers an impressive online "sample" of the hundreds of photographs, sketches, and artifacts Baráthosi Balogh brought home from his travels among the Ainu.
The Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture (FRPAC)
Committed to researching, restoring, and reproducing Ainu culture, FRPAC actively lobbies the Japanese government and people to acknowledge and honor the Ainu's contributions to Japanese culture.
The Ainu Association of Hokkaido
The Ainu Association of Hokkaido (incorporated) (hereafter "the Association") is an organization made up of Ainu who live in Hokkaido, which aims to "work to improve the social status of Ainu people and to develop, transmit and preserve Ainu culture in order to establish the dignity of the Ainu people."
Ainu Exhibitions & Museums:
The Ainu Museum in Hokkaido
“Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People”
Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. 1999. Web. 11 Nov 2013.
Ainu: The Anatomy of an exhibit
The companion Web site to a Smithsonian exhibit, "Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People," provides background information on the Ainu and also gives an insider's view on how a museum show is pulled together.
East-west Center Arts Program and the Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies
Hokkaido University Ainu Treasures exhibit handout
Smithsonian Online Ainu Exhibition
Philippi, Donald L. Songs of Gods, Songs of Humans: The Epic Tradition of the Ainu.
Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture
Woven Identities of Japan: Ainu and Okinawan Textiles. Sep. 4 – Oct. 29,2011 http://www.ccjac.org/exhibitions/ex2011fall.html
Articles of Ainu’s Past, Present, and Future:
Kristof, Nicholas. “Japan’s Forgotten People Try to Make Voices Heard”
New York Times 5 Oct 1996. Web 11 Nov 2013
Tanaka, Yoichi. "Ainu People Today – 7 Years after the Culture Promotion Law"
FOCUS June 2004 Volume 36. Asia Pacific Human Rights Information Center. Web. 11 Nov. 2013
Onshi, Norimitsu. “Recognition for a People Who Faded as Japan Grew”
New York Times 3 Jul 2008. Web. 11 Nov 2013
Okada, Mitsuharu Vincent. “The Plight of Ainu, Indigenous People of Japan”
Journal of Indigenous Social Development. 1.1 (2012): 1-14 Web. 27 Jun. 2013
Kitagawa, Joseph M. “Ainu Bear Festival (Iyomante)”
History of Religions. 1.1 (Summer, 1961): 95-151. Web. 27 Jun. 2013. JSTOR
Legends, Folktales & Language:
PBS Nova Program
The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
Yukie Chiri transcribed folk tales that had been handed down through generations of Ainu and then translated them into Japanese as "Ainu Shinyoshu (Ainu Epics of the Gods)." The transcriptions were done in the Roman alphabet, and the tales were based on chants she heard from her grandmother. On the very night she completed the volume of stories, she died of heart failure. She was only 19.
Ainu Language Reference
Hall Chamberlain, Basil. “AINO FOLK-TALES” London 1888. 11 Nov 2013
English translations of Ainu stories
Murasaki, Kyoko. “The Oral Literature of the Sakhalin Ainu: The Tuytah” Yokohama National University
Strong, Sarah M. "Ainu Spirits Singing: The Living World of Chiri Yukie’s Ainu Shin’yoshu"
Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011. Project MUSE. Web. 19 Jul. 2013 http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_japanese_studies/summary/v039/39.1.refsing.html
Ainu Music Reference
Ainu music refers to the musical traditions of the Ainu people of northern Japan. Genres include the oldest, yukar (mimicry), which is a form of epic poetry, and upopo.
Explore Other Ainu Artists and Groups:
Ainu Pride Productions
Ainu Community on Facebook
'Messages from Taiga' produced by 'Taiga Forum' trailer with music by 'Oki Dub Ainu Band'
Toru Kaizawa, Visual Artist