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 the basis for such
beliefs, along with what Hokkaido's Ainu have traditionally thought about the
crane, the bear, the flying squirrel, and a host of other creatures. The
excerpts below were drawn from The Ainu and Their Folklore, by the Rev.
John Batchelor (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1901). An English
missionary who lived among the Ainu for several decades around the turn of this
century, Batchelor carefully recorded the people's folklore even as he
proselytized the Christian faith. Note that excerpts set off by quotes are
those of Batchelor's Ainu informants rather his own writing.