Ae-oyna-kamuy (short: Oyna-kamuy (オイナカムイ)) is an Ainu kamuy (god) and culture hero. In Ainu mythology, he is credited with teaching humans domestic skills, and for this reason he is called Aynurakkur (アイヌラックㇽ, father of the Ainu or father of humanity).
Ae-oyna-kamuy is described as a large man wreathed in smoke. When the smoke parts, he is seen to be surrounded by flames from his waist to his feet, and wearing a coat of elm bark and a sword. He also wields a magical spear of mugwort. The flames he is wreathed in indicate his virtuous character.
There are a number of myths of Ae-oyna-kamuy's origin, arising from different Ainu tribes. He is said to be the son of, variously, the elm tree, thunder, the sun, or Pakor-kamuy, the god of plague.
Ae-oyna-kamuy is taught by Kamuy-huci, the hearth deity, and descends from the heavens to impart his knowledge to humanity. He is responsible for teaching weaving to the Ainu women and carving to the men. He is credited with teaching techniques of fishing, hunting, gathering, architecture, medicine, and religious ritual, and is associated with law and singing. He also fights several battles on behalf of humanity; in one instance, he destroys a personification of famine with his spear of mugwort, then creates herds of deer and schools of fish from the snow on his snowshoes.
Eventually, Ae-oyna-kamuy, disappointed at the decline of the Ainu, departs for another country; some myths say he returns to the heavens.
In one myth, when he returns to the heavens, the gods send him back because he reeks of humans. Then he leaves his clothes on earth in order to return. It is said that his old sandals turned into the first squirrels.
- Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003. 109-110
- Munro, Neil Gordon. Ainu Creed and Cult. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. 74
- Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003.
- Etter, Carl. Ainu Folklore: Traditions and Culture of the Vanishing Aborigines of Japan. Chicago: Wilcox and Follett, 1949.
- Munro, Neil Gordon. Ainu Creed and Cult. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.