Aynu (Ainu) Mosir
Ainu (which means ‘humans’ in the Ainu language) are hunting and gathering people who have lived in the vast area of Hokkaido, the southern parts of Sakhalin Island, the Kuril Islands, and the northern parts of Honshu (Japan’s main island), since ancient times. The Ainu called their domains Aynu Mosir (the earth/world of humans). For the Ainu people, the natural environment was one of their kamuy ‘the gods’, which gave them all necessary plants and animals. Their diverse rituals, related to their coexistence with the environment, played an essential role in maintaining a proper ecological balance. Large numbers of salmon and trout swam up rivers from the early summer to the autumn. Herds of deer were easily hunted in autumn and winter. Ainu could thus obtain animal foods and materials for clothing. In early summer, they also obtained starch from the roots of a plant (Lilium cordatum). They even grew some millet, despite the cold climate.
Areas Inhabited by the Ainu in the Mid-19th Century (Aynu Mosir)