Whaling Culture and Whale Graves in the Hokkaidō and Tōhoku Regions
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This chapter first investigates the whaling culture of the Ainu people in Hokkaidō, who went through similar plights in the early history of Japan to those of indigenous peoples in North America. Although they do not have a written language, they have preserved a rich culture distinctive from that of Honshū (the largest island of Japan), including whaling culture. This chapter next looks at whaling culture and memorial rites for whales in the Tōhoku Region (northeastern Honshū). Most of the coastal communities in the region were destroyed by the East Japan Massive Earthquake/Tsunami of March 11, 2011, and field research for this project includes Rikuzen-Takata, one of the hardest-hit areas, where much of the destruction remains today. The field research extends to Ayukawa, a small fishing town, one of the few communities in Japan that legally engage in small-type coastal whaling today.