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However, for the native Ainu, bears are kamui, or gods who bring fur and food to them.
A festive ritual that is held to send a bear's spirit back to the land of gods is called Iyomante(Bear sending) and is very importaint for the Ainu.
According to a local newspaper's column, it is "a ritual for expressing gratitude for the blessing of the gods, welcoming the bear god's visit to our world and sending him back to the land of the gods." I found a good story at the Brown Bear Museum to understand the coloumn better.
The title was "The Bear God who wants to listen to Yukara, or an Ainu folk story." The bear god was welcomed to an Ainu village led by Princess Pine-Tar and Princess Aconite. Soon pine tar adhered around his feet and he was intoxicated by a good fragrance of aconite and fell asleep. When he woke up, he found himself dead. He was shot by an arrow that contained aconite poison and pine tar inside. But his spirit remained. The spirit was celebrated by the Ainu people with sake, or rice wine, and big meals. Then, he listened to a traditional yukara of the village. But at this point, he was told, "the next story shall be told upon your next visit." So only his spirit went back to the land of the gods. This is the story I read at the museum.
On another board at the museum, I found the next passage.
"Brown bears are paid the highest respect by the Ainu people as a god of the mountains. It is because the Ainu people believe that a brown bear possessed by gods of the heavens comes from a deep mountain to a kotan(Ainu village) bringing a big loaf of meat as a souvenir and wearing a nice fur coat.
Moreover, this bear god doesn't visit anyone. It appears in front of a chosen hunter, who should truely be a kind hearted, among hunters coming to nearby mountains to invite the god. The bear god is shot of himself by a chosen hunter and leaves souvenir. So the one who could shoot a brown bear thanked that he was chosen by gods."
For your information, the museum I visited is in Bear Farm in Noboribetsu. It's worth visiting and futher information about the farm is soon be uploaded.