Sunday, April 5, 2009

the ainu and the fox

In the spring of 2005, our application for a grant was accepted by the Ainu Foundation, making it possible for us to publish our English translation of Ainu to Kitsune. The original tale had been handed down in oral form among the Ainu from generation to generation, finally to be transcribed and translated into Japanese by the Ainu activist Kayano Shigeru (1926-2006). Some time later, at his publisher's request, Kayano rewrote it as a children's story. It was then combined with Ishikura Kinji's marvelous illustrations and published in 2001 by Komine Shoten as a delightful storybook. We had been given the honor of translating this book into English. The translation was published in 2006 by RIC Publications under the title The Ainu and the Fox. In brief, it is the story of a fox who makes a charanke (passionate appeal) to the Ainu community, claiming that the humans are taking more than their fair share of nature's bounty, even refusing to share with the animals as the gods had intended. Kayano, who had been seriously ill for some years, lived just long enough to meet with us and representatives of the press at his home in Nibutani where, to his great satisfaction, we presented him with a copy hot off the press. (See photo in previous blog post.) The entire first printing of the book was distributed all over Japan and even across the sea, to school libraries and institutions known to have an interest in indigenous peoples.