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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Ainu are an indigenous people who historically lived in Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands, combining hunter-gathering with trade and plant cultivation. In the late nineteenth century, Ainu lands were colonized by Japan and Russia and most traditional subsistence practices were brought to an end by the colonial authorities. This occurred before anthropologists had the opportunity to study Ainu hunter-gathering at first hand and research on Ainu subsistence has relied heavily on archaeological and historical records, in addition to interviews of elders who still remembered foraging practices. When the Soviet Union invaded Sakhalin in 1945, most Ainu fled to Hokkaido and almost all Ainu now live in Japan. Despite real legacies of colonialism and continuing discrimination in many areas, Ainu culture and identity are regaining a new vibrancy in Hokkaido and in the urban diaspora in Tokyo.

Keywords: Ainu, Japan, Hokkaido, Sakhalin, Kuril Islands, Russia, trade

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