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The Ainu Social Landscape

The Ainu Social Landscape

(p.81) Chapter Three The Ainu Social Landscape
Ainu Spirits Singing
Sarah M. Strong
University of Hawai'i Press

The traditional Ainu of Horobetsu, as a culture based primarily on hunting, fishing, and gathering, lived in intimate relationship with the natural world (including its spiritual dimensions). Not surprisingly, their social structures reflect this close engagement. In traditional society, norms for social interaction involved both human-human relations and, because the kamui are alive and responsive just as human beings are, human–kamui relations. These two sets of interactions and social structuring are not highly distinct; the two were interrelated, modeled upon each other, and governed by the same sets of assumptions. This chapter gives a brief description of these social arrangements, starting with human-human relationships and then considering human–kamui relationships and interactions.

Keywords:   Horobetsu Ainu, traditional society, social interactions, Ainu shin'yōshū, human–human relations, human–kamui relations, natural world, social structure

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