You can’t help but feel that Japan’s indigenous population – the Ainu – are distinctly under-represented in modern Japanese culture. In fashion circles you are almost tripping over designs inspired by the Native Americans, but Ainu imagery is conspicuously absent. While I would agree with Rebecca that Japan needs to show a bit more appreciation for its own culture, I am glad to see at least one Tokyo shop keeping the Ainu arts alive.
Key motifs are bears (sacred in Ainu culture), tribal depictions of animals and nature and native earthy materials.
I love this heavy sterling bear ring with gold accents
As well as this hand-carved tribal bangle
And if you are after a really authentic piece of Ainu tribal jewelery then you will also find yourself amply catered for
Here at Tokyo Telephone we love the fact that there are people still producing Ainu inspired work that would otherwise be a remnant of history. Instead these artists are putting the Ainu art into fashion and in turn supporting and raising awareness for Ainu rights.