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Korpokkur (コロポックル, Koropokkuru),[1] also written Koro-pok-kuru,[2] korobokkuru, korbokkur, or koropokkur,[3] koro-pok-guru, are a race of small people in folklore of the Ainu people of the northern Japanese islands. The name is traditionally analysed as a tripartite compound of kor or koro ("butterbur plant"), pok ("under, below"), and kur or kuru ("person") and interpreted to mean "people below the leaves of the Fuki" in the Ainu language.

The Ainu believe that the korpokkur were the people who lived in the Ainu's land before the Ainu themselves lived there. They were short of stature, agile, and skilled at fishing. They lived in pits with roofs made from butterbur leaves.

Long ago, the korpokkur were on good terms with the Ainu, and would send them deer, fish, and other game and exchange goods with them. The little people hated to be seen, however, so they would stealthily make their deliveries under cover of night.

One day, a young Ainu man decided he wanted to see a korpokkur for himself, so he waited in ambush by the window where their gifts were usually left. When a korpokkur came to place something there, the young man grabbed it by the hand and dragged it inside. It turned out to be a beautiful korpokkur woman, who was so enraged at the young man's rudeness that her people have not been seen since. Their pits, pottery, and stone implements, the Ainu believe, still remain scattered about the landscape.

Wooden Koro-pok-guru dolls

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • John Batchelor (1904). The Koropok-Guru or pit-dwellers of north Japan, and, A critical examination of the nomenclature of Yezo, Volume 19. YOKOHAMA: Japan Mail. p. 18. Retrieved 1 March 2012.(Harvard University)(Digitized Jan 20, 2006)
  • Arnold Henry Savage Landor (2001). Alone with the Hairy Ainu or, 3,800 Miles on a Pack Saddle in Yezo and a Cruise to the Kurile Islands. Elibron. ISBN 9781402172656.


  1. ^ European studies on Ainu language and culture Philipp-Franz-von-Siebold-Stiftung. Deutschen Institut für Japanstudien Iudicium-Verl., 1993
  2. ^ Alone with the Hairy Ainu: Or, 3800 Miles on a Pack Saddle Arnold Henry Savage Landor - 1893
  3. ^ Ainu-Grammatik, vol.2 Hans Adalbert Dettmer O. Harrassowitz, 1997

External links[edit]