Ainu swords are used mostly for ceremonial purposes, not for combat (they don't like combat anyway), and their blades are very dull. The blades and guards used to come from the surrounding Japanese people, due to the fact that the Ainu had no iron-forging knowledge. The swords are also shorter, compared to Nihonto (Japanese swords). It used to be that the Ainu exchanged Ainudama (beads) for the Japanese blades and guards. The Japanese exchaged dull blades with the Ainu, so the Ainu people wouldn't retaliate with sharp-edge swords for Japan's aggression against them.
Old (Edo-era, 1603-1867) Ainu sword, "Emius" are very rare. They refer to a knife as "Makiri."
• The Ainu are a people with a cultural and racial background which is different from that of the ethnic Japanese. They have always populated Hokkaido, northern Tohoku, the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin Islands. Today, only a small population remains, mostly in Hokkaido.
• According to one of several theories, the Ainu are descendants of Mongoloid migrants who entered the Japanese islands before the Jomon-era. They were later displaced and assimilated when the ethnic Japanese expanded their territory northwards.
• In the Meiji-era (1868-1912), the Ainu received the status of "former aboriginals," but suffered under official discrimination for many years. In 1997, a new law was passed which provides funds for the research and promotion of Ainu culture.
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