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AINU

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     The Ainu were primarily found in Hokkaido.  Hokkaido, the second largest island on Japan, is found on the north end of Japanese mainland.  Hokkaido is approximately 83,000 square kilometers, where the center of the island contains many mountains and volcanic plateaus.  Hokkaido is surrounded by ocean and has coastlines on the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk.

 

     The Ainu typically lived in villages near the river and seashores because food was more accessible in those locations.  A village was called a kotan and a home was called a chise in the Ainu language. The average size of an Ainu family was about 4 to 7 members and they lived in houses, approximately seven meters by five meters that were made out of bamboo leaves, cogon grass and barks of trees.  Building an Ainu house began with assembling the roof along the placement of posts.  After the roof and posts were completed, the exterior walls were made.  A typical house would last for at least 20 years or even longer.  A typical house would have the length of the house lay parallel to the river.  They only had three windows, in which the window facing the entrance was only for the gods to enter and exit the house.  A fireplace was also put inside the house.

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     Today, Ainu still exist in Hokkaido; however, a definite number is unknown due to the fact that many Ainu hide or do not know their origins because their parents kept it away from their children to protect them from racism.  An estimate of over 150,000 Ainu lives in Hokkaido today; however, only a few thousand are still living in the traditional fashion.  The Ainu population from about 100 years ago was about 26,256 people.