ASIA212Varley

Since the ainu like caucasians have considerably more

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Unformatted text preview: olely to male members of the imperial family. Another reason for the move to Kyoto was that Nara, situated in the mountainous southern region of the central provinces, had become too cramped as a location for the court. Kyoto provided much freer access, both by land and water, to the rest of the country. In particular, the court could more readily undertake from Kyoto the expansion and consolidation of its control over the eastern and northern provinces, a region that had until this time been occupied chiefly by recalcitrant tribesmen known as Emishi. The Emishi, referred to in early accounts as “hairy people,” have often been identified with the Ainu, a race of Caucasian-like people who live in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s major islands, and number today only a few thousand. It was long believed that the Ainu occupied all of Japan during the Neolithic Jòmon age—that they were the “Jòmon people”—and, driven steadily eastward and northward by the advance of civilization in Yayoi times, suffered a fate similar to that of the American The Court at Its Zenith 49 Indians. Since the Ainu, like Caucasians, have considerably more body hair than the Japanese, it appeared obvious that they were the very “hairy Emishi” mentioned in the pages of the Nihon Shoki and other historical accounts. Yet, there are several reasons to doubt this linking of Ainu and Emishi. For one thing, the expression “hairy people” was loosely and pejoratively applied in both China and Japan to uncivilized people in general—people who were regarded as unkempt, dirty, and uncouth—and did not necessarily imply that such people were racially endowed with a greater quantity of hair. Also, mummified bodies of Japanese warrior chieftains of later centuries in the north, who reportedly had Emishi mothers, have been examined and found to possess none of the bodily characteristics of the Ainu. There is, then, a strong possibility that the Ainu, whose precise origins remain a mystery, never settled extensively south of Hokkaido; and that the...
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