Episode 97 – The North Remembers

This week, we turn to Japan’s “native outsiders” — the Ainu, the aboriginal people of Hokkaido. We’ll trace their relationship with the Japanese and talk about their position in modern Japan.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

De Vos, George. Japan’s Minorities: Burakumin, Koreans, and Ainu

Walker, Brett L. The Conquest of Ainu Lands.

Images

An Ainu family from the early 20th century.
An Ainu family from the early 20th century.
A colorized photo of an Ainu group in the late 1800s.
A colorized photo of an Ainu group in the late 1800s.
This map shows the approximate distribution of Emishi and Ainu (in purple) territories in around 1000 Ce.
This map shows the approximate distribution of Emishi and Ainu (in purple) territories in around 1000 Ce.
I did promise you a picture of the lip tattoos. They really are quite striking, aren't they?
I did promise you a picture of the lip tattoos. They really are quite striking, aren’t they?
Hakodate was the first ethnic Japanese settlement on Hokkaido (from the 1400s), and from that base ethnic Japanese settlers spread across the island.
Hakodate was the first ethnic Japanese settlement on Hokkaido (from the 1400s), and from that base ethnic Japanese settlers spread across the island.
Matsumae castle, the base of the Matsumae clan during the Edo period. From this castle, the Matsumae were tasked with overseeing all aspects of the Japan-Ainu relationship.
Matsumae castle, the base of the Matsumae clan during the Edo period. From this castle, the Matsumae were tasked with overseeing all aspects of the Japan-Ainu relationship.
Kitschy tourist stuff like this has become a source of revenue among Ainu communities -- ethnic Japanese with money will come up to Hokkaido for a carefully crafted "Ainu experience".
Kitschy tourist stuff like this has become a source of revenue among Ainu communities — ethnic Japanese with money will come up to Hokkaido for a carefully crafted “Ainu experience”.
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