noun (plural same or Ainus)
1A member of an aboriginal people of northern Japan, physically distinct (with light skin colour and round eyes) from the majority population.
- Until 400 years ago, the Ainu controlled Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands.
- However, the author fails to mention whether the Japanese brought Buddhism or Confucianism to the Ainu.
- Other linguistic minorities include the Korean-Japanese and the Ainu.
2 [mass noun] The language of the Ainu people, perhaps related to Altaic. It is no longer in everyday use.
- Few people now speak Ainu as their primary language.
- There are only a handful of native speakers of Ainu.
- On Hokkaido Island in Japan, only eight elderly people were left that spoke the native tongue, Ainu, in the late 1980s.
Relating to the Ainu or their language.
- This exhibition includes Ainu art which attracted great interest recently when exhibited in Europe.
- Kamui-Chikap, in Ainu mythology, is the ‘God Bird’ who watches the people of the Earth from the branches of the tallest trees.
- The spirit-sending festival, called i-omante, either for a bear or striped owl, was the most important Ainu festival.
The name in Ainu, literally 'man, person'.
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