Possibilities of Reality, Variety of Versions: The Historical Consciousness of Ainu Folktales


In Ainu oral literature there are ubiquitous motifs or story-patterns shared among stories. These stories are integrated by a certain motif, and collectively compose interrelated corpora. To understand each individual narrative, we should refer to other stories based on traditional referentiality. This article illustrates how Ainu oral literature can be interpreted, focusing on one of its major motifs: the trade between the Ainu and the Wajin, or ethnic Japanese. In the process, the historical consciousness of the Ainu narratives is also considered.



Traditional territories of the Ainu.

Map basis: Redrawn from the map in Ainu Minzoku Hakubutsukan (1999:3).

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