Japan's Ainu Minority in Tokyo: Diasporic Indigeneity and Urban Politics, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Japan's Ainu Minority in Tokyo

Diasporic Indigeneity and Urban Politics, 1st Edition

By Mark K. Watson


190 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138206038
pub: 2016-08-26
Hardback: 9780415687539
pub: 2014-02-25
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pub: 2014-03-14
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This book is about the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, living in and around Tokyo; it is, therefore, about what has been pushed to the margins of history. Customarily, anthropologists and public officials have represented Ainu issues and political affairs as limited to rural pockets of Hokkaido. Today, however, a significant proportion of the Ainu people live in and around major cities on the main island of Honshu, particularly Tokyo. Based on extensive original ethnographic research, this book explores this largely unknown diasporic aspect of Ainu life and society. Drawing from debates on place-based rights and urban indigeneity in the twenty-first century, the book engages with the experiences and collective struggles of Tokyo Ainu in seeking to promote a better understanding of their cultural and political identity and sense of community in the city. Looking in-depth for the first time at the urban context of ritual performance, cultural transmission and the construction of places or ‘hubs’ of Ainu social activity, this book argues that recent government initiatives aimed at fostering a national Ainu policy will ultimately founder unless its architects are able to fully recognize the historical and social complexities of the urban Ainu experience.


'This is an important and timely contribution. Only as recently as 2009 the Japanese government for the first time recognized Ainu Indigeneity for those residing outside of Hokkaido. It is a story with much more to follow and this book provides an original perspective from which to understand the shared human and historical experiences that are likely to direct urban Indigenous policy and lives in Japan and beyond.'Pamela J. Asquith, University of Alberta, Canada

'Watson … offer(s) perspectives that have been lacking in the literature on diversity in Japan.' - Robert Moorehead, Ritsumeikan University, Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review

The book is recommended as an important contribution to Ainu studies, to the developing paradigm of multiculturalism in Japan and addresses with unique eloquence the issue of diaspora in the urban context. - John C. MAHER, International Christian University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Ainu in Tokyo 2. Diasporic Indigeneity: Place, Experience and Translocalism 3. How Far South is North? Questioning the Regionalization of Ainu Life 4. Cosmopolitan Tokyo Ainu History 5. Rera Cise: A Home in the City 6. Ritual as Moral Practice: The Icharpa and Ainu Ceremonies in Tokyo 7. Making Ainu Citizens: The Politics of the CPA and Everyday Life 8. Conclusion: Tokyo Ainu and Urban Indigenous Studies 9. Epilogue: The End of a Paradigm? 2008 and Beyond

About the Author

Mark Watson is an Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Kinneret Academic College, Sea of Galilee, Israel

Hirochika Nakamaki, Suita City Museum, Japan
Christoph Brumann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany

Henry Johnson, University of Otago, New Zealand

Founder Member of the Editorial Board:
Jan van Bremen, University of Leiden

Routledge is very proud to be publishing this important series, which has already signed up a good list of high quality books on interesting topics, and has a truly international range of authors and editors.

A key aim of the series is to present studies that offer a deep understanding of aspects of Japanese society and culture to offset the impression of constant change and frivolity that so tempts the mass media around the world.  Living in Japan brings anyone into contact with the fervent mood of change, and former residents from many other countries enjoy reading about their temporary home, but there is a demand also to penetrate less obvious elements of this temporary life.  Anthropologists specialise in digging beneath the surface, in peeling off and examining layers of cultural wrapping, and in gaining an understanding of language and communication that goes beyond formal presentation and informal frolicking.  This series will help to open the eyes of readers around the world from many backgrounds to the work of these diligent anthropologists researching the social life of Japan.

Submissions from prospective authors are welcomed, and enquiries should be sent in the first instance to the series editor Professor Joy Hendry (jhendry@brookes.ac.uk).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General