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More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/3 16:18
Hi!

I'm going to be spending the summer in Japan for a summer abroad program. I was hoping to stay a week or two after the semester ends and visit Hokkaido, as I haven't been there yet.

I'm curious to learn more about the ways of the Ainu people, but I'd like to do so in a more intimate setting than a museum though. I myself am Native American and I am very interested in the similarities between the two cultures in terms of certain mythological and religious aspects. I know there are plenty of similarities history-wise, which also interests me.

Are there any non-tourist areas where you might be able to speak with an expert? I understand language barriers may be a problem, as I of course don't know their native tongue...

I know that we have pow-wows at times and invite the public to watch parts of them; I'm not sure if the same goes for the Ainu (probably not), but I was hoping for something a bit less...touristy, seeing as my interests are very personal and related to my own background.

I hope this question isn't too ''non-PC''!
by Mads (guest)  

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/3 19:46
Someone with more knowledge please correct me if I'm wrong.

By now the Ainu people of Japan do not live in their own traditional communities like some Native American tribes do, so I don't think there are any "real" festivals held, which may be open to the public.

I know you want something other than museums, but seeing that those often connect to researchers, I thought it might be worth inquiring with them:
http://www.ainu-museum.or.jp/en/
They seems to hold dances (for tourists) too.

The first Ainu museum built by an Ainu, they say. This one is in Asahikawa:
http://ainu-museum.sakura.ne.jp/


In Nibutani, where many Ainu still live, there seem to be some exhibits/museums. Nibutani is 1 hour 40 minutes from Sapporo via highway bus.

Personal collection of an ethnic researcher. Covers not only Ainu but native peoples from around the world. In Nibutani.
http://www.town.biratori.hokkaido.jp/biratori/nibutani/html/sryo0N.htm

Another collection:
http://www.town.biratori.hokkaido.jp/biratori/nibutani/html/haku0N.htm
by AK (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/6 13:53
Google search "ainu festival".
Some insights.
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/indepth/scenic/hokkaido/hokkaido_05.html
If you are really interested, you might contact David Suzuki Foundation.
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/panther-lounge/2011/09/a-david-suzuki...
A long time ago, Ainu people used to visit elementary schools (even to Kyushu where I grew up) to show their culture.
by amazinga (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/7 18:05
It seems lots of Japanese are slightly embarassed to talk about Ainu people. For example asking where can I find Ainu people etc, is most likely to be met with a hushed response. It is almost as if foreigners are not meant to know that japan has a muti-racial, multi-cultural history.
Being thought of as Ainu origin is also still something that is very much undesireable and embarassing to average japanese people.
Poor international relations, shoddy law making, lack of an anti discrimination laws etc is all excused by the myth of monoculturalism, race and nationality being inseperable concepts, japanese uniqueness. Japanese people are fed this rhetoric from birth. So when you introduce the idea that Japan has many indigenous races such as the Ainu people and Ryukyu people, melting pot of korean and japanese ancestry etc...there is a sudden uneasy feeling becuase of course this breaks the myth of japans monoethnic, monocultural uniqueness....and by doing that we have to come up with some better excuses to explain bad practices. I wish Japan would celebrate these cultures not brush them under the carpet like a dirty secret but it looks like a case of too little too late. Shockingly it was not until 2008 that Japan officially recognised Ainu as indigenous people.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/7 18:47
It seems lots of Japanese are slightly embarassed to talk about Ainu people.

So are many Canadians talking about native Canadians.

For example asking where can I find Ainu people etc, is most likely to be met with a hushed response.

Where to find Ainu people is a very stange question. Most are fully integrated into Japanese society. It is like asking where to find Swiss people in Japan. It is just natural that you don't get a clear answer. Most people simply do not know it. It is a very strange question.

It is almost as if foreigners are not meant to know that japan has a muti-racial, multi-cultural history.

Some right wing extremists exist in all countries. But the large majority of Japanese does not share your strange idea about Japanese society.

Being thought of as Ainu origin is also still something that is very much undesireable and embarassing to average japanese people.

Where do you get your ideas from? Sure there are some right wing extremists and uneducated people in Japan who still look with arrogance towards minorities, just like in any other countries, but I won't subscribe to your claim that this is the case for the average Japanese.

Japanese people are fed this rhetoric from birth. So when you introduce the idea that Japan has many indigenous races such as the Ainu people and Ryukyu people, melting pot of korean and japanese ancestry etc...there is a sudden uneasy feeling becuase of course this breaks the myth of japans monoethnic, monocultural uniqueness...

Man, you are so arrogant! Do you really have an idea of what is being thaught at Japanese schools? I get the impression that most people in Japan these days accept the fact that the Japanese are a mixture of Koreans, Ainu and Polynesians and that the nonsense your are claiming only applies to the right wing people and uneducated mass.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/8 04:48
You are correct about "mixture", but still its possible to recognize a person who is "a little" Ainu. Native Americans where treated badly for less time than Ainus, so its a bit different but as sad hi-story.
by Module (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/8 08:44
gilesdesign & Module
You must be self-righteous uneducated. The OP didn't ask nor care about your opinions.
Native Americans w(h)ere(misspelled) treated badly for less time than Ainus?? Really??
So you justify cunning Americans & Australians, to name a few, if treat the natives less time after stealing their lands? Or how Europe & US treated the slaves even though coward discrimination is rampant even today?
Get a life or read some history books of your own country before talking about others.

by amazinga (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/8 13:23
I have a gay lawyer friend in Tokyo whose boyfriend/partner is an Ainu. I stayed with them for several weeks. About 2 years ago they came to San Francisco and stayed at my house for 1 week. The Ainu fellow who is 37, went out into the Castro St. gay district. He told me people thought he was a Mexican due to his appearance and hairy arms and legs (he was in a tennis/white outfit). My story is that I have not only met an Ainu, but a gay Ainu and he has stayed at my house and we are still friends.
by Scooby Doo (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/8 21:34
@Uji I am not forcing anyone to agree with me I am just saying it how I see it, after living here for nearly a decade I think I am entitled to do so. Of course you are also entitled to disagree with me and give your perspective but try to do so without turning to personal insults.
You just pick apart every word I say...but do you actually have anything to add aside from shouting me down?
Rather than Ainu being integrated into Japan as you put it, I see it as Ainu are just another part of the races that make up ''Japan''...I guess this is the point I am getting at. You say it is just right wing extremists and uneducated but I disagree, this ''one race'' idea is a very much part of mainstream mass media and politics. Remember not so long ago we had the prime minister proudly declaring Japan as 一国家、一文明、一言語、一文化、一民族 (one country, one civilisation, one language, one culture, one nation) and that ほかの国を探してもない (this is not something found in other countries.)... that really p****d off all the Ainu and Ryuku races and cultures who thought they were part of the wonderful rich tapestry that makes up what is ''Japan''.
I hear fizzled down versions of this ''one race, one culture" mentality just about every other day and nobody would say PM Aso was a right wing extremist he was a pretty ineffectual mainstream kind of politician...uneducated perhaps.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/9 09:09
It is the style you present your ideas rather than their content that makes me explode again and again. I have a problem with people speaking negatively about issues that I feel they have only limited knowledge about.

Your more recent post was much more pleasant to read. I did not catch that particular remark by PM Aso. What a thing to say for a prime minister! By the way, I do consider PM Aso (and a considerable amount of politicians) to be very far right and not representative of the average Japanese.

Japan is definitely less experienced than other countries when it comes to dealing "politically correctly" with minorities. I understand that this must piss off some of the minority members. But I think that the political incorrectness much more often comes from a naive ignorance due to lack of experience with mutliculturalism rather than because of some race theory. Mathematically speaking it is simply a very monocultural society compared to other societies.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/9 11:31
@Uji but I wonder how much of this "lack of experience" with multiculturalism is self imposed. Zainich koreans might say Japan has had lots of opportunities to deal with multiculturalism. In many cases Japan has chosen not to deal with it but at the same time when faced with criticism points to its lack of experience in dealing with multiculturalism as a reason it cant.
I also think this goes a lot further than political correctness...that makes it seem like just a case of saying the wrong thing and upsetting a few over sensitive lefties. we all know the problems lie much deeper than that...it is about the way politicians and
others actually think.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/9 20:16
Uji, I don't know that you mean that Japan's policitians are not representative of its people.

He wasn't PM at the time, he was elected afterwards, so the Japanese electorate did have a chance to choose whether he was representative of them or not via democratic process.

I think its interesting that Aso himself is catholic, which could be considered a significant cultural difference from many Japanese people. Maybe he thought he was telling people what they wanted to hear.

Aso's comments must have also made interesting reading for the increasing number of mixed-race children in Japan.
by Jimmy (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/3/9 22:17
I don't know that you mean that Japan's policitians are not representative of its people.

To elaborate: Japanese politicians - especially the old guard LDP politicians - live in their own world, often out of touch with the common people. That's why they end up saying so much nonsense in public. While it is true that they got elected as the representatives of the country, my point is that they do not represent the people in terms of how they think and act.

He wasn't PM at the time, he was elected afterwards, so the Japanese electorate did have a chance to choose whether he was representative of them or not via democratic process.

Japanese prime ministers don't get elected by the people. The Japanese people did not have the chance to bar Aso from becoming prime minister. Aso became prime minister one year after the 2007 elections, and the next elections did not take place until 2009 when Aso was at the center of the LDP's huge defeat. I think he had a negative approval rate even at the time when he became prime minister.

But that is irrelevant to the discussion anyway. There are much more important issues at stakes for the Japanese electorate than the "one civilization" remark or whether a prime minister is representative of the people or not.

I do recognize the source of confusion of my statement, though, now. I hope this post clarified it somewhat.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: More personal way to learn about the Ainu? 2012/12/28 14:38
Hello, Mads. This reply is way too late to your inquiry about finding a more personal way to learn about the Ainu. No doubt you have already been to Hokkaido and back. But I thought I would put my two cents here. I too am very interested in learning more about the Ainu. I live in Shizuoka Prefecture, but I am trying to make a plan to visit some areas of Hokkaido where Ainu people live. Back in 2002 and 2003, there was an Ainu-owned restaurant in Nakano in Tokyo called Rera Chise where I used to go frequently and talk with the people there about Ainu culture, including a woodcarver who used to sit in the window and make various items. Unfortunately, Rera Chise has closed. I was really disappointed by that. Also, I have been to an Ainu cultural center in Tokyo. I know of Japanese people who are also interested in the Ainu, but they don`t know any more about them than I do. I have read that there has been an increase of interest in the Ainu in Japan. Hopefully that will continue. I have been to Hokkaido twice, but did not get a chance to meet anyone who identified themselves as Ainu except for a lady selling souvenirs at the airport.

I hope you were able to meet your goal of learning more about the Ainu through the summer abroad program! Anybody else on here who has an interest in Ainu culture, I would love to hear from you!

Cheers.
by tonkori rate this post as useful

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