Theme 2: The Culture and Recent History of the Ainu


The Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan. “Ainu” means “human being” in the Ainu language. The Ainu have lived not only here in Hokkaido, but also in regions such as Sakhalin (Karafuto) and the Kuril Islands, developing a variety of cultures. When the Meiji government brought Hokkaido into Japan’s domain, settlement and development had a drastic impact upon the Ainu ways of life and culture. Facing these challenges, the Ainu have persevered, carrying on their cultural heritage to this day.