While I was checking my family registry as far back as six generations, I found that a few ancestors from Hokkaido came in to my family tree. Before the Meiji Era, Hokkaido, between Russia and Japan, was originally inhabited by the Ainu. They spoke Russian, Japanese and their own language.
I remember a book about discrimination against the Ainu which I read in my elementary school days. And for me, the difference between us simply made me feel excited and curious. My family registry reminded me of these things.
So I started to research the Ainu. And I found a good comic book series titled “Golden Kamuy.” “Kamuy” means deities in their language. It seems that it came from their religion which is a kind of animism like Japanese Shinto.
According to these comic books, Ainu know the biology of animals and plants in Hokkaido well. For example, they use the bark of the white birch as torches because they are composed of oil so they burn for a long time. They never steal partially-eaten prey by brown bears, because it means that people invite brown bears to their village. Brown bears become fixated on their catch. They sometimes bury their prey in the soil and sleep on them.
How wondeful it is to connect with the wisdom of the Ainu! I’ll share more with you in another post.