HIEA 112 Medium Post #1 (Week 2)

Ainu Experiences during the Old Tokugawa Regime

The Ainu people suffered a lot of transformations at the hands of the Japanese rule during the extension of the boundaries of the old Tokugawa regime. The expansion included the Ainu’s ancestral lands, paving the way for Japanese rule over the Ainu. The Japanese enforced their rules in the name of protecting the Ainu. The Japanese pretended to have good motives over the Ainu, the motive of civilizing them since they were a barbarian race. This move destroyed the roots of the Ainu way of life, where they were forced to adopt the Japanese education and way of life. When reading Yoichi, Lee, and Mason’s article, “Rule in the name of protection: The Japanese state, the Ainu, and the vocabulary of colonialism,” you get to realize how life was for the Ainu people during the expansion of boundaries.

As an Ainu person, life would be extremely hard. Two forces threatened the Ainu culture and way of life. Among the groups that interfered with the Ainu culture and way of life were the foreign missionaries. When reading Yoichi et al.’s article, we find that the missionaries had already begun the proselytization for the salvation of the Ainu. As more and more Ainu became converts, the missionaries established mission schools that imposed foreign systems and cultures on the Ainu. After seeing the impact of the missionaries on the Ainu, the Japanese came up with the idea of extracting the Ainu from the care of the foreigners. Therefore, they decided to come up with a system of education that would civilize the Ainu, a race they considered to be barbarian and not possible to be civilized. This move gave way for Japanese imperialism towards the Ainu, threatening the basic structure of the Ainu community.

As Ainu people, our lives changed each day. The Ainu system and community way of life were destroyed. Ainu people had to adopt a new culture, a new language, and a new religion. Ainu people used to own land communally, but when the Japanese came, the Ainu were required to own land privately and give up on community ownership of land. Since part of the Ainu land was taken away, the Ainu could not engage in their livelihood, which was based on hunting and gathering. Therefore, they had to adapt to new ways of farming. The Ainu could not engage in their cultural practices, such as tattooing and burning the houses of a deceased person. In response to this colonial imposition, I would still practice my culture privately and teach my children our traditions despite the foreign influence. Collectively, I would rally members of my community to resist assimilation, and all the cultural, social, and economic impositions brought about by the foreigners and the Japanese. I would rally to the community to stand against the destruction of the basis of our culture.

Hi guys. I am Jin Li, an international student from China. My major is International Business. Feel free to read my Medium posts:)