Ainu People of Japan

There were three ancient races that more than likely contributed to Mixed Race People in Japan: Japanese, Emishi (later Ainu People) and Ashihase (possibly Okhotsk). In one study after another of cranial and skeletal measurements of past and present Japanese populations there is a historical correlation between the Ainu, the Jomon and the Japanese population from the middle of Japan outward to the peripheral areas, such as the Tohoku where the Emishi lived. In these findings, Jomon skeletal remains are most ancestral to the Ainu population. They had at one point inhabited nearly all of what is now modern Japan.

The "Ainu Culture" extended from about 1400 to the early 1700 s. It is theorized that the Satsumon Culture developed into the Ainu Culture through the influence of the Okhotsk Culture. This theory, however, has not been proven.

During the mid 1400s, the Japanese extended their influence over southern Hokkaido, primarily Esashi and Matsumae. They later started the oppression of the Ainu. In their resistance to Japanese oppression, the Ainubattled in Kosymain in 1457, in Syaksyain in 1669 and in Kunasiri-Mensai in 1789. The Ainu lost each time. Ainu Chiefs were an important part of their community.

After losing the Battle of Kunsairi-Mensai the Ainu fell completely under Japanese control.

The Ainu were oppressed until the Meiji era. During that era, the government enacted a policy of assimilation, but the Ainu were not allowed to observe their daily customs. They were given the status of former aborigines and forced to abide by Japanese customs.

Ainu Chief 1920s

After losing the Battle of Kunsairi-Mensai the Ainu fell completely under Japanese control. The Ainu were oppressed until the Meiji era. During that era, the government enacted a policy of assimilation, but the Ainu were not allowed to observe their daily customs. They were given the status of former aborigines and forced to abide by Japanese customs.

Ainu People of Japan in 1877

In 1899, the Hokkaido Aborigine Protection Act was passed. The act primarily aimed to provide relief for the Ainu and help them become engaged in agriculture. However, the act designated the Ainu as "former aborigines" and clarified the distinction between the Japanese and the Ainu.

Oppression and exploitation of the Ainu People evolved into discrimination in the late Meiji era, with an increasing number of Japanese colonizing Hokkaido from Honshu. This discrimination continues to today and is the source of a major social problem. A lot of the Ainu has assimilated in order to avoid discrimination and hide their Ainu heritage.

The Hokkaido Ainu Association was established in 1946 at the Hokkaido Ainu Convention in Shizunai, Hokkaido. The goal of the Association was to provide higher education and collaborate construction of social welfare facilities.

Ainu pair in 1920

In 1961, the association changed its name to the Hokkaido Utari Association and is actively engaged in addressing various problems regarding the Ainu. In 1984, the Hokkaido Utari Association resolved that the Government should enact a "New Ainu Law", a new law which replaces the current "Hokkaido Aborigine Protection Act."

The Association is conducting an active campaign, demanding that the government enact the law as soon as possible. There is also a great push to revive the Ainu language and to preserve and maintain Ainu culture.

Traditional dancing and various ceremonies are being encouraged and Ainu language classes are being held in various parts of Hokkaido. Associations are also trying to preserve traditional Ainu ceremonies.

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