Do you know Shigeru Kayano? He is a man who made an effort to protect Ainu culture and language, and he is Ainu himself. He was born in 1926, Nibutani, Hokkaido. He was brought up by his grandmother, who spoke only Ainu language. So he became to be able to speak two languages: Japanese and Ainu. He talked with his grandmother in Ainu when they go to get wild plants. Then he grew up, when he was young, he didn’t feel good about being Ainu, and he was thinking that he wanted to escape from being Ainu.
However when collectors and scholars started to collect the tool of Ainu for agriculture, his heart was injured. Then he started to collect them by himself. This is the start of his life to protect Ainu culture and language. After that, he made a lot of efforts to protect Ainu culture and language. He recorded Ainu language, wrote dictionary of Ainu language and published it. He made a wedding of Ainu style again, and he made houses of Ainu style. He made a museum to preserve his collection of the tools of Ainu. He made a preparatory school to learn Ainu language; this is to maintain Ainu language.
Moreover he became the first Ainu member of the Diet. He made a question in Ainu language to know everyone there is another ethnic group except Yamato race. This is the first time to be used other language except Japanese language. During his term of a member of Diet, the act to promote Ainu culture was established. This is very important point about protection of Ainu culture and language.
Now, various events to show Ainu culture are held. For example, the Ainu traditional dance performance is performed by young people whose ancestors are Ainu. The recognition that there were Ainu people on Hokkaido except Yamato race is becoming spread. Long time ago, the homeland of Ainu people was taken by Yamato race. Ainu culture and language was received lots of pressure.
This is the event in very old time, but the problems about Ainu culture and language still exist. We cannot miss this truth. We must know the existence of Ainu people, culture, language and unfair treatment for Ainu people. To say that Japan is a mono ethnic nation has a lot of misunderstanding.
by Ayako Miyamae