Iyomante Matsuri

Iyomante Matsuri (Bear Festival)

Among the Ainu people of the northernmost islands of Japan, especially on Hokkaido, the baiting and killing of a young bear was not considered a brutal act but a ritual send-off to the spirit world. The "divine" cub was ceremoniously fed and cared for, then killed and arranged with fetishes. Some of his own cooked meat and a dish of his own blood, along with cakes and dried fish, were laid before him. He was supposed to bring these gifts to his parents when he arrived in heaven. After a time, Ainu belief has it, he would be reincarnated and return to earth as another cub.
Ainu Museum
2-3-4 Wakakusa-cho
Siraoi, Hokkaido 059-0902 Japan
EncyRel-1987, vol. 1, p. 160; vol. 2, p. 86
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 681
JapanFest-1965, p. 207