An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/Section V
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Chapter I, Section V: Place names considered
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It has been thought by many that there was a race of men inhabiting, not only Yezo but also Japan Proper, before the Ainu came; and that just as the Japanese have displaced the Ainu, so the Ainu drove out and succeeded the race preceding themselves. This was a theory I myself formerly accepted—but wholly upon trust like so many others. Laterly, however, I have paid special attention to this subject the result being a little brochure entitled The An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/al or Pit-dwellers of North Japan, a of which I now proceed to append, by way of preface to the Names of Places.
That the Ainu have left remnants of their language in Place names here and there all over Japan goes without saying, for, from the analogies of other lands We are fully prepared to expect such to be the ease. Moreover, if any doubts have ever existed on the matter they have now been for ever set to rest by the writings of such men as Prof. Chamberlain; Mr. Nagata Hōsei and others. In this revision I have written in some names of Japan Proper and also of the Islands north of Yezo so as to extend the range of view. My Brochure was divided into two parts as follows:—Part I. The An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/al or Pit-dwellers of North Japan; and Part II. a critical examlnation of the Nomenclature of Yezo.
THE An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/al OR PIT-DWELLERS OF NORTH JAPAN.
In the “Memoirs of the Literature College, Imperial University of Japan, No. 1.” which treats of the “language, mythology, and geographical nomenclature of Japan in the light of Ainu studies,” including also “An Ainu Grammar” by myself, Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain wrote on page 57, at the close of his list of place-names, as follows:—
“The above catalogue may teach several things. First we learn from it the method followed by the Ainus in their geographical nomenclature, which is simple enough. They describe the river, village, or cape, as the case may be, by some striking feature. . . . . Secondly, there is a large number of names not to be explained in the present state of our knowledge. Some of them have perhaps been corrupted beyond recognition. Some are possibly pure but antiquated Ainu, no longer understood in the absence of any literary tradition. Why should not some have descended from the aborigines who preceded the Ainus, the latter adopting them as the Japanese have adopted Ainu names?” (the italics are mine).
Early in March (1904) I had the pleasure of escorting Professor Frederick Starr, of the Chicago University, to some of the Ainu villages, and was on more than one occasion much struck by the many questions he put with regard to them, but when he began to speak of the supposed connection of some of them with the race of men spoken of in the sentence I have italicised above as the aborigines who preceded the Ainus, I at once saw the drift of his questions. It was after one of our conversations on these matters that he pointed out to me Prof. Chamberlain's words:—words which I had not previously taken into any serious account. The resttit is the present brochure.
Now, I must remark at the outset that I am one of those who has quite abandoned the idea of a race of men existing in Yezo anterior to the Ainu. I frankly admit that I formerly acquiesced in the ordinary belief in the existence of such a people in the ages gone by. The assertions of those who were here many years before me; the assurances given me by the Japanese; the so-called tradition of the Ainu respecting them, and the remains of pits in which they are said to have lived together with the exhibition of certain remnants of old pottery and such llke things were too sure and certain proofs to be laid quietly aside by a new comer; and then lastly there were certain difficult place names whose meaning could not at that time be ascertained. In fact, like the famous missing link your aborigine could almost be seen and touched. But none of these foundations of orthodox belief will bear the light, and I have therefore, as in duty bound, abandoned them.
But to examine the matter briefly yet as thoroughly as space will allow. And first as regards the pits. They are here in Yezo in great numbers, so that one is constantly coming across them. The Ainu call them An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex, i.e. “sites belonging to people who dwelt below ground,” and this equals “Pit-dwellers.” Another name they call them by is An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex, i.e., “house sites of people who had earth houses.” Thus then we have the “Pit-dwellers” for certain. But who were they who dwelt in the pits? To come down to living present day examples of them we have them on the island of Shikotan. The people have two kinds of houses, one built on the Japanese model and the other on the pit model. The pits are only for winter use while the Japanese houses are used during the summer. These Ainu were brought down from an island in the Kurile group called Shimushir in the year 1885 by the Japanese Government, and they declare that their forefathers originally came from Saghalien. They were Greek Church Christians. There are also some Ainu at present inhabiting Saghalien who live in the same kind of pits during the cold weather. Hence we find that the Ainu are, some of them at least, actual “Pit-dwellers” to-day. I myself am a “Wood-house dweller,” for my house is made of wood; my brother in Africa is a “Stone house dweller;” his house being built of that material; another brother used to be a real “Cave dweller” for he, being a Royal Engineer, lived for some time in the Rock of Gibraltar; our mother must be a sort of mongrel for she is living in a house made of brick, wood, and plaster after the Queen Elizabeth style: but for all that we are English to the backbone every one of us!
Another very interesting thing connected with these pit-dwellings is the fact that the Ainu have three native names for “roof,” two of which seem to imply by derivation that they rested on the ground over holes. The ordinary word now used is An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex and this just means “house-top” and calls for no special remark. But the other two words are An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex and An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex, both of which mean “the shell over-head” or “the shell set on high,” “high” being in contradistinction to “below”; “the place underneath.” An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex and An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex are both intransitive and adjectival particles, An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex is “above” as opposed to “below”; An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex is a verb meaning “set” or “placed,” while An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex really means “shell” or “outer covering.”
Referring again to the Ainu of the Kurile group, I was very much struck a short time since by reading what Mr. Romyn Hitchcock has said in his Paper entitled “The Ainu of Yezo, Japan,” which will be found in the Report of the National Museum for 1890—Smithsonian Institution, pages 429-502. On page 432 will be found this most astonishing remark: “The so called Kurile Ainu are wrongly named. This name is given to the pit-dwellers of Shikotan, who are quite distinct from the Ainu.” Well, I have myself spoken with Shikotan Ainu but the language was Ainu and Japanese and nothing else, unless it were perhaps a word or two of Russian thrown in. Moreover, I have this day (March 28th, 1904) been into the Government offices at Sapporo and reinvestigated the whole matter. The resuts are: 1st a reaffirmation of the fact that the Kurile islands wereto Japan by Russia in exchange for Saghalien in the 8th year of Meiji; 2nd that in the 17th and 18th years of Meiji the pit-dwellers of Shikotan were brought by the Japanese Authorities from the island of Shimushir in the Kurile group and settled there; 3rd that these pit-dwellers were Ainu and spoke the Ainu language; and 4thly that those who are left of them still have dwelling-pits for winter use. Mr. Hitchcock’s remark must therefore be dismissed as misleading because inexact.
Prof. Milne tells us that1 in the year 1878 he visited some of these Ainu on this very Island of Shimushir, the total number of whom was only 22. “The men,” he says, “were short in stature, had roundish heads, and short thick beards. None of those I saw had the long beard which characterizes many of the Ainus in Southern Yezo, nor were their features so well defined. They call themselves Kurilsky Ainu, spoke a language of their , and also Russian.” The Prof. did not know Ainu, so that when he speaks of these Ainu as speaking a language of their own I am sure from what I have heard them speak and from what I have gathered elsewhere, that their language was an Ainu dialect.
- 1 Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. x, Part I., pages 190–1.
Captain Snow, a gentleman of large experience among these Islands and their inhabitants told Prof. Milne that during the winter of 1879 and 1880 some of this tribe were living on Matua. Later they were in Rashua and Ushishiri. He also informed Prof. Milne that the oldest man among them said that he came from Saghalien. This is just what these Ainu told me; viz., that originally they came from Saghalien. And, what is also very much to the point here, Prof. Milne adds:—“they construct houses by making shallow excavations in the ground, which are then roofed over with turf, and that these excavations have a striking resemblance to the pits which we find farther south. This custom of making a dwelling-place out af an excavation in the ground belongs, I believe, to certain of the inhabitants of Kamschatka and Saghalien.”
The existence of such “pits” or “excavations” in Yezo was first brought to the notice of Europe by Captain T. Blakiston in an account of a journey round Yezo, given by him to the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, (July 27th, 1872).
Secondly, there is the question of the ancient Japanese name Tsuchi-gumo, “Earth-spiders,” and Ko-bito, “Little people,” applied to these pit-dwellers. And besides, the Ainu themselves sometimes talk about the “little men.” But nothing of value can be made out of the appellation “Earth-spiders,” for it implies no more than what is meant by “pit-dwellers.” Ko-bito really means “little people,” “dwarfs”; but the Ainu, when speaking of these so-called “dwarfs” use the word Ko-bito, which is pure Japanese. I have never heard a real native Ainu name meaning “dwarfs” applied to them. In fact, I am of opinion that they have none. Were it not for the Japanese words Tsuchi-gumo and Ko-bito I find no grounds for supposing that the Ainu would speak of a race of dwarfs at all. But foregone conclusions are always hard to kill, so that it will be asked again, “but were there not the An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex here and does not that mean the people of the Petasites1 plant?” Well; no it does not. An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex cannot mean Petasites: it can only be translated by “under,” “beneath,” “below.” The full name is An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex, “persons dwelling below,” the An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex being a locative particle. And this it will be seen does not carry the idea of “Dwarfs” in it at all. But allowing for the sake of argument that An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex did mean “people under the Petasites” even that would not dwarf them in the least. I myself stand nearly 5 ft. 8 and have scores of times not only walked but also ridden on pony back among the leaf-stalks of the Petasites without touching the blades. I wonder how big the ancient Japanese and Ainu must have been! For if because the ancient pit-dwellers could move among the stalks of the Petasltes without touching their over-shadowing tops they were called “Dwarfs,” those who for this reason first applied this name to them must have been very Goliaths in stature!
- 1 I have hitherto called this plant “Burdock.” Prof. Miyabe has kindly shown me it should be Petasites japonicus, Miq. Hence I take this opportunity of correcting my error. I also tender my best thanks to Prof. Miyabe for kindly reading the proofs and correcting all the botanical names which appear to this brochure.
Nor can anything be said for the third argumeut, vlz., that resting on old kitchen middens and flint implements. For (a) when one meets with children—Ainu children—playing at making pottery out of soft clay and ornamenting their handiwork with patterns found on the samples dug up from the earth instead of with ordinary Japanese figures, (which ornamentation was done by means of grass and sticks); and (b) when one is emphatically told by the Ainu that their ancestors used to make pottery and use flint implements; and when (c) we moreover hear in old Ainu songs and traditions of Ainu stone armour and stone-headed spears and arrows, all faith in these things as proofs of a race here anterior to the Ainu finds no place in the mind.
Again, it was shown above that the Shikotan pit-dwellers are Ainu. There can be no doubt on this matter. Now, I have in my hands an Officially printed Report on Northern Chishima, i.e. on the Kuriles. In this report there are a number of photos of the people, their pits with the roofs on and the entrances plainly visible, and of their implements:—of implements still used by them when their photographs were taken. A list of the implements is also given and the division is as follows. (1) Stone implements:—Axes, hoes, knives, and stone staves. For some reason the arrow-heads seem to be left out although a photo of an example is given. (2) Bone instruments (whale bone):—Spears, hooks, needles, combs, mortars. (3) Earthenware:—Saucepans, basins, cups. The photos were taken in the 33rd year of Meiji (1900), and the report was made up the following year. Since this paragraph was written a very interesting work by Mr. R. Torii (in Japanese) on the Chishima Ainu has been placed in my hands. This book was published in July, 1903, and fully bears out what I have written. Both it and the Official Report above referred to independently and fully overthrow Mr. Romyn Hitchcock’s bold assertion. On reading Mr. Torii’s book I find that he has given some interesting comparative lists of Kurile and Yezo Ainu words and phrases. But this author does not appear to shine much as an Ainu philologist. Thus, for example, Mr. Torii gives Kurile An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex, Yezo, An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex for “cat”; and also Kurile An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex, Yezo, An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/alex for “horse.” But neither these words are traceable to any known Ainu root. What are they then? On the very face of them they are Russian. Thus , “cat”; and , “a horse.”
A question has often presented itself to my mind with regard to the kitchen middens as proof of antiquity. It is this. These pots, jars and cups are made of sun-dried clay, not burnt. I cannot think that sun-dried vessels could last under ground in a damp climate such as this of Yezo for many hundreds of years. Surely the frost and dampness would tend towards their rapid resolution into the soil.
In the Journal of the Anthropological Society for May, 1881, Prof. J. Milne published a paper read by himself in 1879 before the British Association in which he gave it as his opinion that “the kitchen-middens and other spoor of the early inhabitants of Japan were in all probability the traces of the Ainu, who at one time, as is indicated by written history, populated a large portion of this country.” Later, in another paper published in Vol. VIII., Part I. of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, entitled "Notes on Stone Implements from Otaru and Hakodate, with a few General Remarks on the Prehistoric Remains of Japan,” he also shows that these remains extend through Yezo and the Kurile Islands. Prof. Milne may therefore well be reckoned as another independent witness supporting what has been said in the above paragraphs.
But then Fourthly there are the Place-names. Yet even these must be given up. In the Memoirs mentioned abeve Prof. Chamberlain catalogues 210 real native names out of which the meanings for 99 only could then be supplied. Well then might the Professor ask—“Why should not have descended from the aborigines who preceded the Ainus, the latter adopting them as the Japanese have adopted Ainu names?” But this was in the year 1887 when our knowledge of the Ainu tongue was only just beginning. At that time I could have asked the very same question; indeed, if I remember rightly, Professor Chamberlain and I did talk the matter over together at Horobetsu just before the memoirs were published. Since then some progress has been made in these studies, and I can no longer ask such a question. I have studied Mr. Chamberlain's list very carefully on the spot with the Ainu, the result being that the real root meanings of the whole 210 with more than a hundred others have been given below under the next division.
But lastly, one would imagine that if a race distinct from the Ainu once dwelt here some human remains would be forthcoming. I have made very careful inquiries on this point and find that no signs of any have yet been discovered. Old pits and graves have been dug into but the results have always been the same: that is to say, the skulls and bones exhumed have invariably proved to be Ainu. The skeletons of no dwarfs have as yet been found.
Should these graves yield any remains other than Ainu the fact would be at once apparent for in the Russische Revue, 10 Heft. III. it is written:—“With reference to the anatomy (of the Ainu) it is remarkable that the , Materialien zur Anthropologie Ostasiens: Anutschin as the tibia have a very striking form; they are marked by an extraordinary flattening (ausserordentliche Abplattung) such as, up to the present, has never been noticed of these bones in any people at present in existence. On the other hand, this peculiarity of form has been observed in the bones of extinct people found in caves.”1 Such were the people who gave names to many places ranging from the south of Japan to Kamschatha and other parts of Siberia. We will now proceed to consider some of these names briefly.
- 1 Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. x, Part I., page 196.
A CRITICAL EXAMINATION INTO TOPOGRAPHICAL NOMENCLATURE.
In making my list of place-names I have partially followed Professor Chamberlain’s excellent plan. That is to say, I have first written the present Japanese pronunciation (omitting the Chinesewith which they are written and their meanings as having nothing to do with Ainu), and then given the real Ainu; then I have parsed it and given its root meaning as well as in some cases pointed out its applicability to the place in question. One thing however, should not be overlooked, and that is the fact that the Japanese have in some cases taken the name and applied it to a locality perhaps some miles away to which it can by no manner of means apply. But this does not spoil the word or name as an Ainu cognomen.