Many Thanks for Kind Mails Part-3

orig: 98/09/05
Thank you for continuous flow of E-mails, Friends.
Let me present a portion of mails received.
My response here may be different from what I actually sent back to the original sender. Senders' names are abbreviated.

Dylan said:

I read your articles on the origins of Japanese and found it very interesting.
Is 'Ainese' still spoken in day-to-day life in some parts of Japan? Are the Ainu people full integrated with the Japanese or are there remote tribes still around?

Without referring to statistics, my impression is that there are very small number of Ainu people that use Ainese as their mother tongue. I'd be surpriesed if the number is 1,000. Most likely, in the magnitude of a lower hundred, at the most. Sadly enough, Japanese (in the narrow sense) are sometimes teaching Ainu language to Ainu decendents.

They do not maintain any tribe group any longer. They are fully integrated with Japanese, as far as daily life is concerned. There are few Ainu people who wear their traditional attire and curve woods making bear figurines or other objects to sell at souvenir shops.

Thus, the language has practically been deceased for, say, 30 years. In 1955, S. Hattori wrote that there are only several persons who can speak mother tongue Ainu; and they are all 70 to 80 years old.

All Ainu, if found any, presently reside in Hokkaido Island, the northern-most island of Japan, or "successfully" mixed with "Japanese". It is positively belived that Ainu used to live in the northern part of the Honshu (Main) island. My attempt is to prove that their ancestors covered all of Japan's islands for, say, at least around 3,000 years.

Dylan came back with another question:
I would like to visit that ancient ruin you said was uncovered in the northern parts of Honshu - what exactly did they find there?
He meant "San-nai Maruyama" ruin found in Aomori prefecture. I replied as follows.
I'm not familiar with the ruin very much. One of the most exciting findings was big holes in the ground, which were considered to be pillar holes of a big building/tower of chesnut trees. In an attempt to reconsutrct the building, such big chesnut trees were no longer available in Japan and they had to be imported from somewhere in Siberia.

Suggest HP is
San-nai Maruyama Ruins, presented by Aomori Bank. The page is in Japanese, however, you can enjoy several good pictures. I'd suggest that you click all buttons under this index.html page. Total number of clicks will be around 10.

Lisa wrote:

I enjoyed your writing on the Ainu and ancient Japanese history. I searched the web for Ainu information after reading an article in "Discover" magazine (June, 1998 issue) entitled "Japanese Roots". I also enjoyed the MIDI section most especially SWAN.

I've listened to several of the MIDIsand all are lovely.

Thank you, Lisa. One of few comments on my music composition (:-)
Virginia asks "what is iomante?"

First, the word "iomante" consitsts of three elements, "i oman te".
"i" represents "it" as a complement in grammar
"oman"is an intransitive verb, meaning "to go"
"te" is a suffix which makes an intransitive verb a transitive verb (among other functions).

Therefore, iomante, would literally mean, "let it go."

Now, what is "it"? "It" in this case is a cub bear. There appears some additional variation of animal, such as a kind of owl. In Ainu language, quite a few items are called "it" to make things ambiguous. One example would be "i o ay". The word is dividable into "it (here, it means "poison"), to put, arrow" to mean "poison arrow." Either for a taboo or simply as idiom, many things are called "it".

Above is the linguistic answer to your question. Next, from cultural view point;
"Iomante" is a rite of Ainu. There is a high likeliness that Ainu imported the culture from Tungusic people in the northern Asia. The people hunt a bear cub, feed the cub for years through which all the respects are paid to the cub, kill it to "let it go back" to the spritual world. The killing ceremony is called "iomante." Yes, LET IT GO.

Background to this is that the people considers all animals look like human in the spiritual world, come down to human world in animal body with associated meat, give the meat to the poeple and are due to go back to the spritual world as dignifiably as possible, through a large celebration or ceremony, to return human in the spritual world.

Another example, when the people catch salmon, a certain wood material must be used to kill a salmon at the head so that it can go back to the spritual world with dignity. Otherwise, the salmon cannnot go back to the spritual world with dignity.(This is NOT called iomante, though.)

Please bear in mind that what I can write here is not all that I know; what I know is not all that would be told about the "iomante".

Peter posed interesting questions. I divide them in three sections. First one follows:

I am quite interested in how over a long period of time, the influx of Chinese words (and more recently, Katakana words) have changed the Japanese language.

Thank you for your E-mail. I enjoyed reading it.
First, in the history, we borrowed Chinese characters (kanji) to express Japanese words, as one of my pages describes. When was it? There is no firm decision on this question. However, we have an iron sword that bears kanji expressed Japanese, excavated from the 5th century cemetry.

In the history book of ancient China, "Gi" (3rd century), there is a mention of Japanese names. Whether the names were recorded by a Chinese person, phonetically translating, or by a Japanese who already used such kanji expression, is unknown. Likeliness is the former.

You talked about influx of Chinese "words." Yes, we, then, started borrowing Chinese words, perhaps, in connection with import of Budhism, say in the 6th century(?). (In that meaning, we borrowed Sanskrit, indirectly, via China, Sanskrit as phonetically transcribed in Kanji.)

In today's Japanese vocabulary, I'd not be surprised if 70% of our conversation or news paper articles contain Chinese words, borrowed over centuries, adapted into Japanese phoneme system. If, however, one is careful, or interested, it is relatively easy to identify whether a word is Chinese origin or Japanese origin, Yamato Kotoba (language).

Peter's next point:

The one thing that has not changed is probably the grammatical structure. In your articles, you mention the similarities between some Ainu and Japanese words. Is there a similarity between Ainu and Japanese grammatical structure?

For example,  in English and Chinese, the sentence structure is as follows:
                I GO TO SCHOOL.
                Subject, Verb, Predicate

In Japanese:    I SCHOOL TO GO.
                Subject, Predicate, Verb
Is this similar in Ainu?

Let me simply answer to your question. At least since the 8th century, until today, grammar evolved "within" Japanese structure. Perhaps, difference between Shakespere grammar and current English grammar can be employed to think about difference between Japanese grammars in the 8th century and today.

People often uses SVO or SOV, that is, Subject-Verb-Object or Subject-Object-Verb, in characterizing a language.

Japanese use SOV, so does Ainu. English is SVO and so is Chinese. They often use this criteria in discussing similarities (or otherwise) among languages. I strongly DOUBT it! Just think about the number of possible combinations, SVO, SOV, VSO,VOS, OSV and OVS. There are only six possibilities of the combinations of S, V and O. When one can almost rule out OVS/OSV as unnatural, there are only 4 possibilities. Thus, I do not put a heavy value in comparision of the word order (sequence). Caveat: quite many people do.

Peter's point #3

A friend of mine is from Turkey. He says that the grammatical structure of Turkish is almost identical to that of Japanese. The words are different, but the use of particles and having the verb at the end of the sentence is the same. When he was in school, he was taught that the Turkish people originally came from North Central Asia (could this be Mongolia?). A similar connection may exist with the Ainu.

Unfortunately, I am not an expert in language or history, but I do find your articles fascinating.

So what is your background? Are you studying or doing research into this through a University? Please reply if you have time.

Turkish language is considered to belong to Altai language family to which, some argues, Japanese also belong. There has been no firm theory. Altai is a name of a mountain or mountains that run Mongolia, China and Kazakh(stan?) in the middle of Asia continent. Interestingly, it means "gold mountain".

My back ground? Simply an amateur layman!

K.H. discussed:(excerpt)

It is highly inaccurate for you to deny our (Ainu's) different racial origins from the invading Yamato Japanese. The Emishi peoples of Tohoku were described by the T'ang Emperor as "highly unusual looking" when an Emishi couple visited the T'ang Court with the Japanese ambassador in the 7th Century AD (NIHONGI). ... The Emishi were a Caucasian people. For evidence you cannot go to modern photos of Ainu since many are half Japanese. You must look at the old Yamato-e prints, and older photos from the 19th century. Physical anthropology also attests to the gulf separating modern Asian populations (including modern Japanese) from the Jomon/Ainu population according to their skeletal remains. Furthermore, the people of Tohoku are closer to the Jomon population than those in any other part of Japan except for the Ainu as a result of their Emishi inheritance.

I do not understand how you consider that I "deny (Ainu) different origins from the invading Yamato Japanese". My current assumption is not as you described, or rather close to yours, excepting only in one point about "Is Ainu Caucasian?". Let me summarize my points.

I'm inclined to believe Ainu is Jomon decendent.
Jomon is a family to Paleo Mongoloid. (Could have some relationship with Australian aborigine)

Yayoi is a mix of Jomon and some invading people, say, Neo Mongoloid.(Whether "Yamato" is a label for Yayoi as defined by me here, or it is a name for the invading people, is not clearly defined by researchers in my view.)

Kofun era people may be created by further mix of Yayoi and continuing immigrants. However, whether Kofun people can be defined/identified separately from Yayoi people is yet to be studied.

Japanese (today) is a mix of Jomon, Yayoi (and Kofun) decendents.

Ainu has been least affected by invaders or immigrants, keeping Jomon properties the most.

As above, Japanese are not singular in origin. One who has denser Jomon properties than others can be close to Ainu, in blood or DNA composition. One who has denser immigrant/invader blood would be very different from Ainu. A Japanese may be expressed as:
a * Jomon (elements) + b * Invader (elements) (where a+b=1).

While the parameter "a" for an Ainu would be very high, Japanese as a group would show from low "a" (i.e. high "b") to high "a" (i.e. low "b"). Above is my paradigm.

Is Ainu Caucasian? There are many recent and published knowledges which lead ones to understand that Ainu is NOT Caucasian, but rather perhaps belong to Paleo Mongoloid. I can only refer you to the Gm Bloodtype study or DNA studies as my Page 11 and Page 12 describe.

Thank you, Friends, again, for kindest notes. Please write me again.
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