The Bear People

The bear people

  Their home is in the northern most Japanese island of Hokkaido. There are only a few of them left, now scattered them left. Now scattered amongst and mixed in with the dominant Japanese who settled on the island several hundred years ago. But the bear’s peoples as they are called by Japanese had come to island much earlier.

 They call themselves the Ainu. Which mean man in their language? The Ainu originally inhabitant the whole island of Hokkaido. The north of Honshu, the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril islands. The later immigrants pushed them out from both north and south. The origins are still a mystery it is not absolutely certain whether they belong to the Lndo European or Mongolian ethnic group. Some research including the famous polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, be lived the Ainu legend provides a simple answer. They came from heaven.

How they lived

The Ainu have always lived mainly by hunting and fishing in rivers and lakes. And by collecting barriers and forest fruits. They hollowed out boats from tree trunks and builds sophisticated snares to catch animals.  In these skills as well as in there colorful customer and ornaments, they resemble some of the North American Indian tribes. The hunters excelled in their knowledge of the wild in personal bravery. It is said that they would not hesitate to fight an enraged wounded bear with only a knife.

They lived mainly in river valleys. Each of their small villages was headed by a chief who enjoyed great respect from all the tribal members. They made their clothes from animal’s skins and from fabrics woven from plants fibers. The women’s costume consisted of a long shirt called a mouru and a scarf covering the head, they also wore ear-ring and large oval beads.

The men wore a simple long coat with sewn on ornaments of highly original pattern. Two spiral shaped ornaments on the back symbolized eyes. Which were to protect the man from attack by an enemy form behind. The Ainu have long black hair falling on their shoulders and the men have heavy beard which distinguish Asian peoples. The woman used to have moustache like tattoos around their mouths.

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