The Ainu are one of the Japanese indigenous people who live in Hotukaidou, Japan. Hotukaidou is about 30000 square miles and lies between 41 and 46 degrees north latitude, 140, and 16 degrees east longitude. Looking at a map, it is located along the same longitude as Nova Scotia (Inez, 7). Today, unfortunately, due to expansions of industrialization, economic transformation and Japanese government regulations, there are no longer any traditional Ainu communities in which people’s lives continue to depend on hunting, finishing, gathering and agriculture.
this paper, I will take the perspective of an older woman who grew up with
traditional Ainu ways of life in the early 19th century in Hotukaidou. In other
words, I will examine the important key concepts for an older Ainu woman in the
early 19th century. One of the reasons for this is to focus on key concepts of a
traditional Ainu person’s life. Another reason is that most of the sources
that I found were written in the early 19th century, and the people who are
interviewed in those books are elders. The last reason is that, since there are
different gender roles among Ainu people, I decided to focus on a woman’s
of Ainu people were written by both Japanese and
Western scholars. According to the most adequate description that I found, Ainu people are described as follows:
are many tattooed Ainu women. According to Ainu tradition, there is a good deal
of bad blood in women, which must be taken out. Tattooing
was therefore introduced as a means of letting some out in order to keep the
body strong. Tattoo marks are placed especially upon the lips and arms because
these are among the most conspicuous parts of the body. They are put there to
frighten away the demons of disease. The wives of gods of heaven are similarly
tattooed, so that when demons come and find the Ainu women marked in the same
way, they mistake them for goddesses and flee (Batchelor, 50). Some women are
happy to be tattooed, but the pain horrifies some of them. However, tattooing is
one of the things that all Ainu women are expected to do.
The age of marriage is 17-18 years old for men and 15-16 years for women, who are tattooed. At these ages, both sexes are regarded as adults. At the wedding ceremony, participants pray to the god of fire. The bride and the bridegroom each eat half of the rice served in a bowl, and other participants are entertained (Batchelor, 15). The reason why I think marriage is one of the key concepts of an elder Ainu woman is that a woman’s tasks change after marriage. After marriage, a couple starts their life with a new house and a woman is expected to do all of the woman’s tasks for the family, which symbolizes the states of an adult woman.
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Prefecture museum site,