人類とアイヌ民族【Man and the Ainu】

The first evidence of manlike creatures appears over 1,800,000 years in the past. That is a long time and still, it is not a long time. Mankind’s history is extremely short, and as we are today, it is even shorter. As “Homo Sapiens,” we have existed about 100,000 years, or so. At least, that is what the scientists say.


From this fairly recent beginning, we must consider what has happened in Japan, to get an idea of our past history and how it has affected our living style, culture and society. This article will take a very great amount of data and try to reduce it to something that will help you understand the history and development of the Japanese people.

私たちは国の起源から、日本で何が起きたのかを理解し、日本の歴史とそれによって私たちの生活様式、文化、および社会が受けている影響について考えてみる必要があるのではないでしょうか。 ここでは、多くのデータを基に日本民族の歴史と変遷に対して私なりに考察していくことにします。

Neanderthal Man, who lived from about 250,000 years ago, to about 40,000 B.C., showed the first traces of religion and belief in a non-human object. They worshipped the bear! This was probably because it was a strong, fearless, and feared animal. The Ainu of Japan, who may not have been the first people here, but are the earliest we know of, hold the bear in great esteem. Even today, we can see proof of that.

25万年前から紀元前4万年前まで生息したネアンデルタール人は、信仰ということを覚えた初めての人類でした。しかし、彼らが崇拝していたのは人間ではなく、その強さと狂暴な性格からだと思われますが、なんと熊だったのです! アイヌ民族は厳密に言えば日本の原住民ではなかったかもしれません。しかし、現在私たちの知る限り最初に日本に住みついた部族です。彼らもネアンデルタール人と同様に熊を崇拝していたと思われ、その名残は現在も見ることができます。

They think that this world is the best and that gods inhabiting the other world want to come here. When they come, they have to come in the skin of animals, with a preference for the bear. However, they use any kind of disguise and sometimes come as plants and other living things. The gods can’t go back to their world until they die in this one. Therefore, helping gods go back home is a good act. The fact that plants are eaten, and animals killed, is not considered as offensive by the Ainu, since they don’t believe in death, but in being reborn.


One of their ceremonies involves catching bear cubs and letting them stay with a host family, where they are treated as members of that family. When they get too rough for the human children to play with, they are caged and cared for very well until they are about four years old. Then they are ceremonially and mercifully killed and eaten. During the ceremony, the god is given the invitation to visit them again, if he has enjoyed his stay on earth. The Ainu burial ceremony for their people tells the dead not to come back as ghosts and spirits, but to take care to come back in the proper and natural course, as babies.

それを象徴する彼ら独特の儀式の一つに、小熊を捕らえて家庭に預け、家族の一員として育てるというものがあります。小熊が狂暴になって人間の子供と遊べなくなってくると、檻に入れて大切に飼育します。そして、小熊が4歳になると、儀式にのっとり、安楽に殺して食料にします。儀式の間、神に対して、もしこの世での滞在が楽しいものであったなら再び訪れるよう呼びかけます。 また、アイヌ人の葬儀では、死者に対して幽霊や霊魂としてでなく、再び人間の赤ん坊としてこの世に戻ってくるように言うのが習わしとなっています。

The Neanderthal religion believed that bear skulls should be kept in caves high on the mountains and signs of fire are also found in sites used by those people. The Ainu also believe that the bear is equal to the God of the Mountain and the God of Fire. This shows a very close and similar type of thinking and custom.

ネアンデルタール人が信仰した宗教では、熊の頭蓋骨は山の頂上にある洞穴の中に安置しなくてはならないとされました。さらに、彼らが生活していたと思われる場所からは、火を使用した跡が発見されています。アイヌ人も熊は山の神、火の神であると考えました。 このように見てくると、ネアンデルタール人とアイヌ民族の間には習慣、考え方において非常に似通ったところがあることがわかります。

Perhaps the first people here were Neanderthals, pushed here by the first of the Ice Ages, about 250,000 years ago. Since there were no boats, they had to come by land. The only convenient land would be the Sakhalin Island, which was probably connected with the mainland at that time.


Recent studies show that Japan may have been the coastal part of the mainland, a long time ago! The water level was 150 meters lower than at present, due to the water being taken up by the huge glaciers. History is fascinating!



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