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Welcome to the companion Web site to the NOVA program "Island of the Spirits," which leads viewers to Hokkaido, Japan, an otherworldly land of dense mountain forests, untamed creatures like the grizzly and wolf, and Japan's indigenous people, the Ainu. The program was originally broadcast on November 2, 1999. Here's what you'll find online:
  • Origins of the Ainu
    Anthropologist Gary Crawford recalls how a phone call from a Japanese colleague triggered a sea change in his thinking about the origins of Hokkaido's aboriginal people.

  • Ainu Legends
    The Ainu believe that the world rests on the back of a giant trout, that otters caused human beings to be flawed, and that seeing an owl fly across the face of the moon at night is cause for great trepidation. Find out why from missionary John Batchelor, who lived on Hokkaido for decades.

  • Find Your Way (Hot Science)
    Migration is an integral part of life for many of the animals in and around Hokkaido. In this interactive feature, get a sense for how just one of those creatures—the salmon—manages to find its way home from hundreds if not thousands of miles away.
Plus Resources.

Photos: BBC

Text Island of the Spirits Home | Origins of the Ainu | Ainu Legends
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