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Thread: The Ainu: Origins of Samurai

  1. #1
    Gabe Guest

    Post The Ainu: Origins of Samurai

    A while ago an article, "The Samurai And The Ainu", was published in Scientific Frontiers. Unfortunatly, it only saw brief discussion on the e-budo forums.
    It is my opinion that this matter is worth a closer look. Below, I have taken the liberty to provide links to information concerning the matter.

    The first reference of the matter was found on Science Frontiers Online. The article can be found here.

    The SF article, The Samurai And The Ainu , was based on a story published in the New York Times. The story, Exalted Warriors, Humble Roots , written by John Noble Wilford was first published in the June 6th 1989 New York Times. This story can be found here. (Wilford, John Noble; "Exalted Warriors, Humble Roots," New York Times, June 6, 1989. Cr. J. Covey.)

    Wilford's story was based on the findings of C. Loring Brace published in the American Journal of Physical Science. Brace's article, Reflections on the face of Japan: a multivariate craniofacial and odontometric perspective., can be found here.
    (AJPA. 1989 Jan;78(1):93-113.)

    World renown anthropologist, CL Brace, recieved his Ph.D from Harvard University in 1962. Loring Brace is currently a Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Anthropology and Curator of Biological Anthropology at the Museum of Anthropology. More.

    It is important to consider the implications the Japanese-Ainu relationship over last 2,000 years; the Ainu people of Japan have been subjected to genocide, racism, degradation, and abuse (Kodama 1970). Is it possible that historical records have been skewed over the matter of Japanese nationalism? More information on the Ainu-Japanese relationship can be found here:

    1. A Look at the Impact of Modern Legislation on the Ainu Culture of Japan
    2. UN Calls for Anti-Racism Legislation in Japan
    3. Ainu rights law's effects perceived as superficial
    Last edited by Gabe; 1st November 2005 at 03:58. Reason: grammer

  2. #2
    Gabe Guest


    Recently, I was able to get in touch with Brace via e-mail. He informed me that "There are two papers that deal with the matter, both published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in different years. One was called Japanese tooth size, past and present (co-authored with Masafumi Nagai) AJPA 59(4):399-411 (1982).
    The other was Reflections on the face of Japan: A multivariate craniofacial and odontometric perspective (co-authored with M. L. Brace and W. R. Leonard) AJPA 78(1):93-113 (1989). At the moment, I and my Japanese co-author, Noriko Seguchi, are gearing up for a much more major enterprise dealing with population relationships in East Asia and elsewhere. But what I mention above should get you a start."

    I did a little 'digging' and found that among Noriko Seguchi's current research projects is "Brace’s Ainu-Samurai Hypothesis from 1989 Until Today" (reference) . I am going to assume that this is alluding to the "much more major enterprise dealing with population relationships in East Asia and elsewhere."

  3. #3
    Gabe Guest


    Who are the Ainu?

    "The Ainu (pronounced /ˈainu/, "eye-noo", are an ethnic group indigenous to Japan; Hokkaido, the northern part of Honshu in Northern Japan, the Kuril Islands, much of Sakhalin, and the southernmost third of the Kamchatka peninsula. The word "ainu" means "human" in the Ainu language; Emishi, Ezo or Yezo (蝦夷) are Japanese terms; and Utari, ウタリ, (meaning "countrymen" in Ainu) is now preferred by some members. It is widely accepted amoung scholars that the Ainu are the decendants of the Jomon. There are over 150,000 Ainu today, however the exact figure is not known as many Ainu hide their origins or in many cases are not even aware of them, their parents having kept it from them so as to protect their children from racism." (Wikipedia.)

    " The Ainu (́´n¡) aborigines of Northern Japan are heavily bearded and have thick wavy hair. Their both mix of European and Asian physical traits contrast so sharply from other indigenous peoples of Asia that no one is really sure of their origin. Some theories hold they are of Caucasian descent, others that their distinct features are a result of isolation that allowed them to remain racially unchanged as the rest of the mongoloid races mixed and evolved through a series of migrations. Other theories hold that they are descendants from various Oceania races. The Japanese chronicles "Kojiki" and "Nihonsyoki" refer to them as descendants of an ancient people called Emishi. Today the term Ainu is used to denote the indigenous people of Hokkaido in Japan and Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, in Russia.

    Their culture is precariously close to extinction. The language is spoken only by a few elders.

    Centuries of oppression, racism, forced assimilation policies, intolerance and discrimination, social and political dominance of the majority ethnic Japanese have contributed heavily to the annihilation of the Ainu culture. Modern socialization and the fear of marginalization has led recent generations to regard their Ainu identity negatively. Many have abandoned the transmission of Ainu customs and traditions." (Thomason.)

    Additional Resources:

    1. Nippon Utari Kyokai
    2. Ainu People - Wikipedia
    3. PBS NOVA: Origins of the Ainu - By Gary Crawford; great source.
    4. The Ainu, their Land & Culture - A large directory of Ainu related links.
    5. Ainu People in Japan - Article on Ainu-Discrimination; Yuuki Hasegawa.
    6. Ainu People Today 7 Years after the Culture Promotion Law ; Yoichi Tanaka.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Washington State, USA
    Likes (received)


    Josef Kreiner has published material on the Ainu that you might find interesting. Also take a look at the stuff published by Erwin von Baelz during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It isn't on the Ainu, but it does tell you a lot about the physical characteristics of Meiji-era Japanese.

  5. #5
    Gabe Guest


    Oh thanks for the tip, I will have to look into that.

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