Ainu cuisine

Ainu cuisine is the cuisine of the ethnic Ainu in Japan. The cuisine differs markedly from that of the majority Yamato people of Japan. Raw meat like sashimi, for example, is not served in Ainu cuisine, which instead uses methods such as boiling, roasting and curing to prepare meat. The island of Hokkaidō in northern Japan is where most Ainu live today; however, they once inhabited most of the Kuril islands, the southern half of Sakhalin island, and parts of northern Honshū Island.

There are very few Ainu restaurants in the world, though some do exist such as Ashiri Kotan Nakanoshima in Sapporo, and Poron'no and Marukibune in Ainu Kotan, Hokkaidō.


Ainu cuisine uses meats obtained through fishing and hunting such as salmon and deer, wild plants gathered in the mountains such as ooubayuri bulbs (オオウバユリ, cardiocrinum cordatum) and acorns, as well as various grains and potatoes obtained through farming. Other features include its liberal use of oils as flavoring.[1][2]

In addition to salt, the fats from cod, sardines, herring, shark, seal, sika deer, and bear are used to flavor dishes.[3] Miso has also been used in modern times. Soup stocks may be made using kelp (kombu), animal bone, and dried fish. Seasoning and spices include pukusa (allium ochotense), berries from the Amur corktree (phellodendron amurense), and wavy bittercress (cardamine flexuosa).[4]



Wild plants

  • Pukusa, a wild garlic also known as kitopiro, gyouja ninniku (ギョウジャニンニク, or ascetic garlic) and ainu-negi (アイヌネギ, or ainu negi) in Japanese. Pukusa is very similar to wild leeks found in Canada and the United States in taste, texture and appearance.




  • Kitokam - a sausage flavored with pukusa
  • Munciro sayo - millet porridge
  • Ruibe - thin sliced frozen salmon
  • Sito - a dumpling made from rice or millet
  • Ohaw or rur, a savory soup flavored with fish or animal bones.
    • cep ohaw - salmon soup
    • kam ohaw - meat soup
    • yuk ohaw - venison soup
    • pukusa ohaw - pukusa soup
    • pukusakina ohaw - anemone soup
  • Munini-imo - a fermented potato pancake
  • Mefun - fermented salmon liver and innards
  • ratashkep or rataskep (ラタシケプ) - described as a "stew" or "mixed and braised dish" made from multiple ingredients by Kayano[9] and others.[10] Another source described it as a special treat that used special ingredients[6]


  1. アイヌ文化保存対策協議会 『アイヌ民族誌』 第一法規出版、1970年。ASIN B000J9FZ8E
  2. 国学院大学日本文化研究所 『日本の食とこころ - そのルーツと行方』 慶友社、2003年5月。ISBN 4874492339
  3. 更科源蔵 『アイヌ 歴史と民俗』 社会思想社、1968年。ASIN B000JA5YH0
  4. 更科源蔵 『アイヌ伝説集』 みやま書房、1981年
  5. Batchelor & Miyabe 1893
  6. 1 2 Honda, Katsuichi (1905). Harukor: An Ainu Woman's Tale (preview). London: Methodist Publishing House. p. 123., saying ratashkep was a "snack" but used non-ordinary special ingredients to appeal to children, like "Amur cork nuts with Chinese millet flour and wild peas, or chestnuts and preserved salmon roe".
  7. Batchelor 1905 Ainu-Eng-Ja. dict.
  8. Watanabe, Hitoshi (渡辺仁) (1982). アイヌ民俗調査 (snippet). 15. 北海道教育委員会., collected from the recollection by Umeko Ando
  9. Kayano 1996, p.208 キナラタシケプ 山菜の寄せ鍋; p.460, ラタシケプ 「混ぜ煮:豆,カポチヤ,イナキピの粉,シコロの実など いろいろな物を混ぜて煮た物」
  10. Dettmer, Hans Adalbert (1989). Ainu-Grammatik: Texte und Hinweise. 1. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 843. ISBN 978-3-447-02864-6., where kina rataskep and mun rataskep are mentioned, and translated as "Gräser-Eintopf", "Kräuter-Eintopf" (grasses stew, herbs/worts stew)


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