Those handcrafted chopsticks from Hokkaido are made in Enju wood. In Ainu culture, it is thought that enju wood’s unique odor has the power to ward off evil spirits. It is used to make pillars of houses to prevent the spirit of sickness from coming in.
Who are the Ainu?
The Ainu are the indigenous population of the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost of the Japanese archipelago. Ainu means “human”. Ainu culture is very different from Japanese culture, with its own legends, beliefs, dances and rituals, languages and songs.
The Ainu used to live in close relationship with nature, usrviving by fishing, hunting and farming. Thus, they developed beliefs that gods and spirits visit our world in various forms and therefore are found all around us, in the natural world. They can be found in mountains, wind, animals or plants. The Ainu have a great respect for nature and it reflects in their crafts, songs and dances.
Dances and songs are very important in Ainu’s daily life. Whether it is joy or sadness, they express their emotions through dances and songs, which can be found at any time in all parts of society, whether for family celebrations, with friends or even at work.