History of Ainu

96E024 Megumi Kubo

Long time ago, Hokkaido was called "Ezochi" by Wajin, however, Ainu people called it "Ainumoshiri" which means Ainu kingdom. Ezochi was thought a backward region by the Wajin, Ainu people were also thought of as barbarians by Wajin.

It was important for Ainu to love nature and to pray to water, wood, bears, fire, and so on. Ainu thought God for them was superior in power to people, and then, they did not have written characters so they communicated about each other by speaking. There are "Yukara", by spoken epics. the contents are about heroic deeds, and worship nature. They spent a good time till Wajin invaded Ainumoshiri.

For first time, Wajin became to live in Hokkaido six or seven hundred years ago. Sometimes, Wajin deceived Ainu people in transactions. Ainu people did not count, so Wajin took advantage of the Ainu's ignorance. there is "Ainu counting". for example, Wajin told Ainu that Wajin wanted to get ten furs from Ainu, however Wajin cheated Ainu, and they got twelve furs. (Shiozawa, 1986, P.58) When Wajin had dealings with Ainu about fur, Wajin deceived Ainu in counting fur, thus Wajin invaded Ainu's life environment. Wajin destroyed nature which was important for Ainu still more.

In 1456, Ainu were discontented with Wajin, and they tried to be gotten out Wajin from Hokkaido. This action was the first for Ainu, because they had not used violence. One Ainu person asked one Wajin who was a blacksmith to make a Makiri which is pocket knife; however, Ainu person was not satisfied with it. He complained about the knife, and quarreled with the Wajin about it. The Wajin stabbed the Ainu to death with the knife after quarreling. The Wajin's action touched off a riot. Ainu people tried to use weapons and to be gotten out Wajin from Hokkaido.

In this first action. Ainu people attacked Wajin's hunting fields, and fishing ports. In this time, Koshamain heard that Ainu people tried to be gotten out Wajin from Hokkaido, and he decided to be at the head of the Ainu people. He was a very strong and wise man.

In July 20, 1458, the Ainu were ready to fight a decisive battle with the enemy. Koshamain led Ainu people, and lay seige to the castle. They could invade the Wajin's area smoothly. Koshamain put the enemy to flight; however, Wajin took the enemy position in a surprise attack when Ainu people was not on guard down as they had done well. Koshamain was killed by the Wajin, and many Ainu people were killed by the Wajin, too.

After that, there were uprisings eight times from 1512 to 1536. It is said by Wajin that these uprisings were acts of Ainu, and Ainu people tried to invade Wajin's area about eight times; however, this story is not actually story.

Impression

I live in Hokkido; however, I did not know about Ainu history very well. When I was student in Hokusei Junior College, I am interested in Ainu history more and more. My grandmother lives in Biratori. There is much history of Ainu in Biratori. Sometimes I heard about Ainu from my mother and grandmother. I just felt that it was bad for Ainu people to took their place away Wajin. When I wrote this report, I thought that I have to change in mind. I have to have doubts about Wajin's point of view. I have to understand about Ainu people's point of view.

It was hard for me to find this story, and to learn about Ainu history; however, it was interesting to learn about Ainu, and Hokkaido history.

References

Shiozawa, S. (1986). Kanashimi no Kotan. [Sadness in Kotan]
Tokyo: Rironsha.
Shiozawa, S.(1987). Yukara no Matsuri. [Festival of Yukara]
Tokyo: Rironsha.
Emori, S. (1987). Ainu no Rekishi. [History of Ainu].
Tokyo: Sanseidou.