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Harukor: An Ainu Woman's Tale (Voices from Asia) 0th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520210202
ISBN-10: 0520210204
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Essential reading for anyone interested in the Ainu."--"New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies

From the Back Cover

In this engaging tale, Honda Katsuichi reconstructs the life of an Ainu woman living on the northern island of Japan over five hundred years ago. Harukor's story, created from surviving oral accounts of Ainu life and culture as well as extensive research in the scholarship, takes place in the centuries before the mainland Japanese nearly destroyed the way of life depicted here.

In the first person, the fictional Harukor tells us of her childhood, her adolescence, and her motherhood, drawing on tales and songs performed by her grandmother and other bards. She describes festivals, weddings, childbirth and midwifery, traditional healing methods, battles, and funerals in detail. Her story is followed by the adventures of her oldest son, Pasekur, which end by foreshadowing an early Ainu rebellion against Japanese encroachment.

Amply illustrated and prefaced by an extensive introduction to Ainu history, the natural surroundings, and the sources used to construct Harukor and her world, this volume is a unique portrait of Ainu gods and humans, of matters sacred and mundane, and of the distinctive Ainu respect for nature's bounty.

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Product Details

  • Series: Voices from Asia (Book 11)
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (April 12, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520210204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520210202
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #521,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Harukor is a good introduction to Ainu culture that does a credible job of presenting Ainu culture as a culture both like and unlike others, without sentimentalizing the Ainu or depicting them as primitive.

The introduction is particularly good as a general overview to Ainu culture (as far as it can be reconstructed) for the period ending in the late 17th century when the Ainu were increasingly subjugated to the expansive Japanese presence.

The biggest weakness of the volume is that it tries to serve two purposes: the first is to present an Ainu tale as an Ainu would tell it; the second is to make the Ainu culture more accessible to non-Ainu. Unfortunately these two goals are some times contradictory and Honda makes a number of digressions and explanations that someone living the traditional Ainu lifestyle would not feel the need to makel while these are needed for the tale to be understandable to modern readers, the effect is to render the actual tale somewhat uneven and cumbersome.

The above flaw is somewhat offset by the quality of the writing and general and the very natural-feeling English translation.

I highly recommend this book for those somewhat curious about the Ainu who are also looking for something easier to read than the volumes of scholarly material available. Even for those familiar with the scholarly material Harukor does a good job of putting a more personal face on Ainu culture.

While the volume is not perfect, it is the only volume of its sort that I know of and is worth the price.
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I ordered several books on the Ainu and this is one of the top ones, a personal acct and worth reading
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Harukor: An Ainu Woman's Tale (Voices from Asia)
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