August 16, 12 | Hokkaido Likers
The Ainu people are the native born Hokkaido people. They lived a life much like many indigenous cultures of hunting and fishing. Their lives were intricately linked with the seasons. Here we will introduce a little of their lives and culture in the summer season.
Many Hokkaido town names can trace their original name back to the Ainu language. The central region of Hokkaido is home to 'Shakotan'. A small town which originally in Ainu was 'Sakku-kotan'. In Ainu summer roughly translates as 'Saku'.
Ainu who originally lived in the surrounding mountains first settled this area. Although living in the mountains during the winter months, they would move to the coastal areas during the summer to fish, collect fruit and abalone and gather kelp. This small village was known then as 'Kotan'. As it became more and more popular this "summer village called Kotan" grew and eventually adopted the name 'Sakku-Kotan'.
Villagers spending the summer here were very busy with everybody working including women and children. Men would fish for various sea resources. The women and children would then harvest fruits and dry the various fish etc. the men caught. Japanese from the northern areas would trade with Ainu for tobacco and rice. As the women were some of the busiest people with harvesting and drying fish, the summer became known as the 'season of the women'.
* HP: Sayaka Kaji
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Manamin)