北の生活文化(Ainu oral literature )

 

 

北の生活文化(Ainu oral literature )


 

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 Both the Ainu and Japanese people contribute to form Hokkaido's tradition of oral literature. While Ainu literature,in which epic stories are recited accompanied by a melody, is still alive and being transmitted today, not much of the Japanese tradition remains due to the short history of immigration and instability of social and economic situation.
 
Ainu oral literature
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88. Reciting of heroic epics 89. "The Fox God Man", a story of mythic epics
 Ainu people have performed various genres of oral literature as an important part of their cultural tradition. Many epics recited in their tradition of oral literature are relatively long, and gods or heavenly forces existing in the realm of nature and heroic demigods play a more major role when compared with the oral literature of Japanese people. In many cases, the oral literature is recited in such a manner that the leading characters of the tales appear as speakers using first person narration to introduce vignettes of their experiences.

 Stories of the Ainu are categorized according to type of performance into three genres. These genres include Mythic Epics called kamuyyukar or oyna in the Ainu language, Heroic Epics referred to as yukar, sakorpe or hawki and Prose Tales called uwepeker or tuytak.

 Mythic epics and heroic epics are recited in rhythmic rhymes to repetitive short melodies. The mythic epics are characterized by persistently repeating defined refrains which are uttered between lines. When heroic epics are performed, the reciter and the listeners tap out the time by beating some 30cm-long blocks of hand-held wood against the edge of a hearth, and interject short rhythmical exclamations at certain points of story development in order to make performances more lively and spirited. The texts of the stories that fall into the category of prose tale are recited in a relative monotone in prosaic diction which is close to everyday conversation.
 
Ainu mythic epics, heroic epics and prose tales
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90. "A sister carrying her baby brother on her back"
   from heroic epics
91. Offering a prayer to deities
 The recitation of most tales in the category of mythic epics takes from a few minutes to less than 20 minutes, while some take more than one hour. In view of content, the mythic epics deal generally with animal gods and gods of natural phenomena who tell stories related to what has occurred in the realm of world of gods as well as what befell them when they visited the world of human beings.

 Some of the heroic epics take less than 20 minutes for performance, while others last a few hours.Many tales of this category feature a superhuman hero who can fly and be resuscitated after being cut by a sword. The hero tells the story of a battle he has fought in order to take revenge for his parents' death or to regain his abducted fiancee.

 Performances of some tales in the category of prose tale take about ten minutes while others take a few hours. The prose teles are characterized by their variety of contents compared with the mythic epics and heroic epics. In some stories, for instance, a girl talks about her life after being orphaned in a battle between villages. She relates how she was helped and taken care of until she grew up and took revenge for the death of her parents. Some stories are composed from a viewpoint opposite to that in the mythic epics. In these stories, a man tells his experience of having married a goddess when she visited the world of human beings and how she left him when he surreptitiously discovered her identity.
 
Japanese oral literature
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92. Scene from "Kuri no Hashi," a story of Shigejiro,
   a witty man representing the undersesrved
93. "Monsho An" temple, related to the Japanese
   legendary story
 Regarding Japanese oral literature, there are few old tales created by Japanese settlers and little folklore transmitted from Honshu as in the cases of United States and England where few folktales of white people and English people exist. The indigenous Native Americans' old stories are referred to as American folktales while there are few old stories existing which belong to white people. There is a rich tradition of oral literature in Britain which belongs to the Celtic people of Ireland and Scotland while there is little created by English people. Folktales that were brought by immigrants have been lost, presumably while the settlers were completely absorbed in the cultivation of land.

 The harsh climate which formed a backdrop for the settlers' lives did not allow folktales to emerge. The first Japanese immigration to the south of Hokkaido dates back to the end of the Heian period. This was followed by the establishment of the Matsumae clan in the 17th century, direct control by the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 18th century and the outbreak of war in Hakodate in the Meiji era at the end of the 19th century. Immigrants were forced to face conflicts with the indigenous Ainu and the hardships of living in a new land throughout the early history of settlement. Therefore they could not afford the luxury and enjoyment of creating folktales. In addition, typography was introduced in the early Meiji era resulting in reliance on printing and a reduced need for oral literature.

 Hokkaido's legendary stories about Japanese persons are much more related to everyday life and more realistic.
 
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