Magazine article New Internationalist

House of Winds: Tokyo Restaurant Gives Voice to Ainu People

Magazine article New Internationalist

House of Winds: Tokyo Restaurant Gives Voice to Ainu People

Article excerpt

In 1986 Prime Minister Nakasone characterized Japan as a 'monoethnic' society. The idea lives on in the present Government's view that the Ainu people are a withering minority rather than an indigenous group.

There are few public places in Tokyo where people can dispute such claims and make their voices heard. So those with something to say can get swept away by the atmosphere at restaurant Rerachise, 'The House of Winds'. Beneath the campus of Tokyo's Waseda university, on a tetanal mat-area squashed between bookshelves and the kitchen, Sato Tatsue serves up Ainu delicacies like salmon, raw deer, pounded pumpkin and spicy aubergine.

The denial of recognition and rights to the indigenous people of Ainu Moshiri (more commonly known as the northern island of Hokkaido) has been enforced by oppressive laws. As in Australia and the US, such laws have destroyed an environment-friendly lifestyle and sent the indigenous population spiralling into poverty. …

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