Within Japan, but also abroad, Ainu are often depicted as an enigmatic people and, in general, information about them is inaccurate or skewed by misconception – one such example is the erroneous idea that the Ainu language is dead.
In 2008 Ainu won recognition as indigenous people of Japan, which both was caused by and also helped the rise of a renewed consciousness of Ainu identity and traditions. Today there is a rather large Ainu community living mostly in Hokkaidō, whose effort to revitalize and preserve the rich Ainu cultural heritage is most important. It is thanks to this resilient community that the Ainu language is not dead today, although undeniably still in an endangered state. There are three varieties of Ainu: Hokkaidō, Sakhalin, and Kuril.
In this ten week course, you will be learning how to speak Saru Ainu (Hokkaidō variety), which is one of the most widely studied dialects. At the same time, you will also gain knowledge about the Sakhalin variety.
✔ Introduce yourself, greet others and ask questions
✔ Talk about yourself and others and learn about the Ainu family structure
✔ Describe objects, people, and situations accurately
✔ Ask for directions and locate objects and people
✔ Maintain reasonably simple conversations with native speakers
✔ Learn some history of the Ainu people
✔ Learn about the Ainu folklore
✔ Learn to appreciate traditional stories and songs
✔ Learn how the traditional knowledge and world view are expressed through language