I was researching Ainu myths (for some reason I’m obsessed with this dream/lullaby/story of the goddess rocking 60 cradles but can’t find anything else about it in English) and came across this lovely animated version of a tale of primal Ainu being Okikurumi and his wife/sister Turesh. (Youtube version pasted below) When I listen, I hear similar rhythms and patterns to Pacific Northwest Suquamish or Tlingit, and the stylized wave patterns also remind me of similar designs from Pacific Northwest Native Art. Again, there isn’t much in English on Okikurumi and Turesh with a quick Google search.

The best source of info I found (I’ll search in Japanese soon, but it takes so much more effort) is this excerpt from John Batchelor’s Specimens of Ainu Folk-lore tell when Okikurumi and Turesh cut down a pine tree:

1.At the head of Japan there was a metal pine tree.
2.Now, the ancients, both noble and ignoble, came together and broke and bent their swords (upon that tree).
3.Then there came a very old man and a very old woman upon the scene.
4.The old man had a useless old axe in his girdle, and the old woman a useless old reaping hook.
5.So they caused the ancients to laugh at them.
6.Even the ancients were unable to cut down the tree, so they said: “Old man and old woman, what have you come hither to do?”
7.The old man said:—”We have only come that we may see.”
8.As the old man said this he drew his useless old axe and striking the metal pine tree cut a little way into it,
9.And the old woman, drawing her uselesss old p. 138 reaping hook, struck the tree and cut it through.
10.There was a mighty crash; the earth trembled with the fall.
11.Then the old man and woman passed up upon the sound thereof, and a fire was seen upon their sword-scabbards.
12.The ancients saw this and greatly wondered, and then they understood that it was Okikurumi and his wife.

It seems more like a tall tale than a moral or warning story.

Anyway, here’s the beautiful little anime about Turesh hiding out of Loneliness? (shades of Amaterasu anyone?) and is coaxed out of her sadness by Okikurumi painting word pictures of life along their beloved river.

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