Things related to Japan's first people :

Hello...!!! Have you ever heard about "Ainu"...? If you haven't then please check this out for more details about "Ainu - The Japanese Indigenous Tribes".

Ainu is an indigenous tribe which lives on Japan's northern island, specifically in Hokkaido and the Kurile and Sakhalin islands. Even so, most of the Ainu people currently live in Hokkaido and only a handful of people live in Sakhalin. According to The Ainu Museum's data, there are 24,000 Ainu in Hokkaido and 2,700 living in Tokyo.

Ainu people consider things that are useful or that can not be controlled by them as "Kamuy" or gods. In daily life, they pray and perform various ceremonies for the gods.

Origin of Ainu

Mostly, Ainu people are more similar to the dark-skinned groups like the groups in Southeast Asia than the Japanese or Koreans. And yes origin of the Ainu is a kind of mystery itself.

Now let's go through a few historical facts about Ainu's origin. If the Japanese history is considered then, the period from 10,000 to 400 B.C. is known as the Jomon Period. The people who lived in that particular time are regarded as Japan's first major culture. Many scholars believe that the Jomon people were Ainu or at least that the Ainu descended from the Jomon People. That's why the Ainu is also called as the first people of Japan.

Ainu's Physical Characteristics:

*Ainu have light skin

*Lots of facial and body hair

*Round eyes, wavy hair, and large bodies.

*Ainu men can grow thick, wiry beards, unlike most Japanese men.

Some people confidently say that Ainu doesn't really look that much different from Japanese. It is difficult to tell because most modern Ainu has at least some Japanese blood in them so most of the times modern Ainu doesn't really look very different than Japanese. According to one research, there are probably less than 200 pure-blood Ainu left.

Cultural Heritage

The Ainu are a famous of large numbers of body of oral traditions. The major types founded are yukar and oina i.e (longer and shorter epic poems in literary Ainu), also uwepekere and upasikma (old tales and autobiographical stories, both in prose), lullabies, and dance songs. Yukar ia nothing but the heroic poetry, chanted mainly by men, dealing with demigods and humans. It also includes oina, or kamui yukar, shorter epics chanted mainly by women about the gods. South central Hokkaido's  Saru region is particularly known as the motherland of many bards and storytellers.

The mixed group of men, women, and children narrates the Yukar. Men sometimes reclined and beat time on their bellies. 

Mukkuri is known as the best of Ainu musical instrument.It is a mouth harp made of wood. There are other instruments which includes coiled-bark horns, straw flutes, skin drums, five-string zithers, and a type of lute.

Craft and Hobblies:

Under folk art, weaving, embroidery, and carving are among the most important forms of that. The traditional Ainu weaving arts were once almost lost, but they were revived near around the 1970s. Carved trays and bears are the most important treasured tourist items.

The poison arrow, unattended trap arrow, rabbit trap, fish trap, ceremonial sword, mountain knife, canoe, woven bag, and loom are among the many traditional items. 

Social Problems

There were also census registration rules in 1871 that required Ainu people to register and be forced to use Japanese last names. At the same time, they were also forced to assimilate along with the emergence of a ban on using the Ainu language and traditions.

In addition, Okada explained that from 1896 to the 1890s the Japanese government issued regulations that had an impact on the land acquisition that had been managed by the Ainu people. From 1899 to 1997, the Japanese government also enacted the Former Protection Act of the Former Hokkaido People. Although this regulation aims to protect the people of Hokkaido, its provisions actually limit the activities of Ainu people.

The rules encourage Ainu people to farm, even though they are very dependent on fishing and hunting. This caused many Ainu to fail to become farmers and instead became cheap laborers in factories. This law also guarantees the education of Ainu children. However, the curriculum and language of instruction used in the learning process are not friendly to Ainu culture.

The life of the Ainu entered a new phase when the Ainu Cultural Promotion, Dissemination, and Advocacy Law was passed in 1997. This law declared Japan as a multicultural country. After this regulation was promulgated, the Former Protection Act of the Former Hokkaido Indigenous People no longer applies. Thus, the government is no longer tasked with protecting but instead promoting Ainu culture.