Ainu Woman. The Ainu are the indigenous people of Japan, who spoke languages completely unrelated to Japanese. After a century of modernization, forced assimilation, and official denial of their existence as a distinct people, the Ainu were officially recognized in 2008. Hokkaido Ainu, the only remaining Ainu language, will most likely die out entirely in the next few decades. The culture is experiencing a modest revival.
The indigenous people of northern Japan call themselves “Ainu,” meaning “people” or “humans” in their language. Recent DNA evidence suggests that the Ainu are the direct descendents of the ancient Jomon people who inhabited Japan as early as 12,000 years ago
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Wood carving has been an important part of Ainu culture, surviving after political changes in the late 19th forced the Ainu to find new ways of making a living. After Russia expanded south into the Kurile islands in the 18th century, Japan responded by taking control of Hokkaido, then known as Ezo. In 1871, a new Family Registration Law classified Ainu as Japanese subjects under Japanese laws. Land was nationalized. Ainu language, customs were banned. Worst of all, hunting, fishing were…
Japan. The ainu, situated in the northern island of Hokkaido, are similar to the aboriginal people of north America, in that they have tried to keep their own culture and language alive while avoiding assimilation into the greater culture of modern Japan. The Japanese government however, have been trying to enforce assimilation of the ainu, and use prejudice against them both at the state, and at the personal level.