The Ainu are the indeginous people of Japan and who were eventually driven to the north by later settlers. Included here are a couple of book reviews on the Ainu.

The Ainu of Japan

This is a book for young readers about the Ainu of Japan, perhaps the very first people in that country, and what happened to them at the hands of later settlers that became the modern-day Japanese. There are a lot of beautiful photos, a glossary, and a listing of other resources.

The photos show a definite physical difference between the Ainu and the modern-day Japanese. The first part of the book talks about Hokkaido, where the Ainu live, and then the book goes into the history of the Ainu. The Ainu were in Japan first, and the ancestors of modern Japanese, when they arrived, referred to the Ainu as barbarians.

Starting in the 1400's, the ancestors of modern-day Japanese began a program of pushing the Ainu out of their areas, and taking over Ainu lands. One thing I found was that there were many wars between the Ainu and the Japanese, but the Japanese always won.

It is incredibly interesting to compare the way the Japanese treated the Ainu, and the way American settlers treated the Native Americans. This included things like not allowing the Ainu to use their traditional language, controlling what times they could fish, forcing them to adopt the ways of the majority culture, etc.

For anyone interested in shamanism, the book shows that a number of the Ainu practices were definitely shamanistic in their nature.

A very, very good book.

People from the Sky: Ainu Tales from Northern Japan

The Ainu are probably the first settlers in Japan. They were eventually driven north by later settlers, who became the present-day Japanese, and today live mostly in Hokkaido. Their numbers have dwindled considerably.

This book is about their tales. The first one is titled People from the Sky, and I found it quite interesting. According to the person telling the story, A great beam of light reached down out of the sky. Along it, riding upon a bright cloud, came the first living person to set foot on the earth.He was the father of the human race. Notice how this is very similar to UFO sighting stories; a beam of light from the sky, an individual descending in the beam, etc.

As with legends from some other countries, A-e-oina was sent down to earth to teach the people there about civilization.

There's an interesting tale about one time when the Ainu saw two moons in the sky.

The book is filled with interesting folk tales of the Ainu.

Other Sources

Ainu (You Tube)
Ainu Folklore: Tradition and Culture of the Vanishing Aborigines of Japan (1949)
Ainu Life and Legend (1941)
The Ainu of Japan (1892)

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