The Original Inhabitants of Japan

The Ainu, the original inhabitants of Japan who speak a non-Japanese language, live in the far northern islands of the country. Their mythology has characteristics in common with that of the Japanese, with whom they have interacted since the early ninth century. The Ainu creation story has characteristics of the earth-diver type.

At first there was a mixture of mud and water and no living things. Then the Creator, who lives in the heavens above, sent a small bird, a wagtail, to make earth. Confused, the bird flew down and fluttered about and beat its wings at the mushy surface until a few dry spots emerged, forming the islands where the Ainu live.

As for the creation of humankind, for the most part the Ainu think that since they are so hairy themselves, their ancestor must be the polar bear.

A myth is also told of a heavenly couple sent by the Creator. They were called Okikurumi and Turesh, and they lived on a mountaintop. The couple had a son whom some call the first Ainu (ainu means human), and he is said to have taught the people how to survive. Still, most people say the first ancestor was the bear god .

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *