John Batchelor made his mind to work for the Ainu as follows. The first was to teach Ainu Christianity, the second was to make them know the generosity, mercy and light of the God, the third was to inform Japanese people of Ainu religion and language because they did not now know them.
Batchelor came to Hakodate from Hongkong when he was 23. One day when he had a chat with the students he had taught English at the Catholic Church, he happened to hear their insisting that Ainu were not human. He got angry and had a quarrel with them.
Immediately soon after that, he saw Ainus with bows and arrows on the street of Hakodate. The Ainus looked so obedient and kind that on the contrary he did not feel any fear. They made a bow politely, touching their heavy beards with their hands. Though Batchelor did not wear beard, he also did similar thing to what they had done before. Then they were talking of something smilingly one another. He determined to work for Ainu more and more.
John Batchelor was born at Uckfield in Sussex, England on March 20,1854 as the sixth child of eleven brothers and sisters. His father was a merchant as well as a tailor of woolen goods. He was an incorrigible child when he was small.
One time he drank some liquor left in the glasses just for fun after a dinner party in his house and felt dizzy with a headache. Her mother was gentle enough to make him realize his error without scolding him. Then he took the pledge and kept it through his life.
When he was 2, he visited his grand mother aged 90 years, and she said to him, "After you grow up, you will work among two strange races." Later as his grandmother foretold his future, he lived in Hokkaido for half a century to work for Japanese people and Ainu. When he looked back upon the past, he admired her gift of prophecy.
After he left primary school at the age of 15, he took an entrance examination of a school to be a lawyer but did not pass it. He studied at a night school working on the farm and went up to London to study at a theological seminar, which he graduated from at the age of 21. He was recommended to go to Hongkong by his teacher.
Arriving in Hongkong, he studied Chinese at a school. Soon the climate there did not suit his health and he got malaria. His doctor advised him to move to a colder area, because Hongkong was bad for his health. Taking into consideration Batchelor's health condition, his doctor gave a hint that it was advisable for him to go to Japan.
Batchelor got on a ship for Yokohama on May31, 1877. When he enjoyed a distant view of Fuji on the sea for the first time, he was much impressed with its grandeur he could not express. The mountain looked like a kind of a guardian deity that defended Japan and bowed his head involuntarily to the sacred mountain.
He stayed Yokohama until June 14 and left there for Hakodate on an American sailing ship. It took eight days to reach Hakodate because of no wind. At those days Hakodate (population of 20,000) was the largest town in Hokkaido.
Before Batchelor was in Hakodate, Walter Dening had been preaching there. Bachelor became an apprentice preacher and boarded with Williams, who was an assistant of Dening.
In fall of 1878 he went to Sapporo, where he met Kiotaka Kuroda, governor of the Hokkaido Government Office. He wanted to study Ainu there and rented a Japanese house and lived with an Ainu from Sakhalin to learn Ainu. In December he returned to Hakodate again and stayed at an inn to learn Japanese. From there he often visited Ainu colonies.
Sometime he visited Katukumi at the foot of Mt.Esan, where an old Ainu couple lived a poor life. According to their story, there lived many Ainus a few years ago but they died one after another because of sickness. A few years after that when he visited there, he found that no one lived.
In 1879 he became a member of Church Missionary Society. The Treaty of Ansei banned foreigners from living in areas away from about 300 kilometers of Hakodate. He went to Ainu village at Usu, where he became acquainted with three Ainus. One of them, Tomizo Mukai was the wealthiest man in the village, whose business was fishery, horse trade, and transportation. Bachelor adopted Tomizo's daughter called Yaeko afterward.
In September of 1879 he visited Piratori, and he stayed with the chief called Penri to learn Ainu under him. It was so hard for him to live in Ainu style house and moreover, he could not eat Ainu food. He only had the dumplings of millet and barn yard grass. Then there was no electric supply in Hokkaido, so they made a light by burning the bark of white birth.
In April of 1880 he went to Aomori by ship from Hakodate to see the Castle of Hirosaki. He was not interested in the almost ruined castle, but he was inspired to find Ainu in Tsugaru(Aomori) dialect.
In April of 1881 he was moved to find that Penri had built a room for Batchelor.
In April of 1882 he returned to London and studied at a theological college for one year. Next year he came back to Hakodate and boarded with Penri. Batchelor collected 6000 Ainu words besides engaging in missionary work. The meals of vegetable and millet were unbearable to him, because he had eaten much meat before. As a result his body got weaker and weaker and he came to feel some difficulty in walking.
In such an ill-fed condition his two friends came to see Batchelor from Tokyo, but he could not serve any thing to eat to them. On the contrary they brought a can of beef to him. He could enjoy meat after a long time.
In 1884 he married Louise, who was representative of Japan Catholic Church, Water Andrewes'sister. Batchelor had wooed her for ten years. He was 29 and she was 42.
In January of 1885 he went to Osaka, where he lectured on Ainu. In the same year he invited an Ainu young man, Taro Kannari to Hakodate to study Ainu. From the Kannaris came well-known scholar specialized in Ainu like Mashio Chiri,Yoshizo Kannari, Sachie Kannari and Matsu Kannari. Yoshizo Kannari, a wealthy man was progressive and had his son enter elementary school in the Meiji Era when most of people had not their children do so.
Batchelor taught Taro Kannari Christianity in exchange of learning Ainu from him. Taro Kannari gradually came to believe in the God.
At last he was baptized Christian in December of 1885. Batchelor was pleased with Taro's baptism as the achievement of his ten years' missionary. Yoshizo Kannari knew Bachelor's wish, which lived among Ainu and wanted to study Ainu. So Yoshizo Kannari was kind enough to rent Bachelor three rooms and kitchen near Kannari'house.
In April Bachelor and his wife moved to the new house with their servants. In summer of this year Chamberlain, professor of Tokyo University visited Batchelor's house to write on Ainu and stayed with Batchelor for three weeks. Batchelor took Chamberlain to Ainu villages, which was beneficial to publishing a book on Ainu.
In June of 1887 Batchelor went up to Tokyo to be a deacon of Japan Catholic Church and studied theology for six months. Batchelor was formally assigned to preach Ainu by the Church.
He strongly felt that he needed a school to teach Ainu children and built a small school named Airin (affection) at Horobetsu(Noboribetsu). Batchelor made Taro principal of the school and they taught Ainu pupils reading and writing Ainu by using romaji, math, sewing and hymn.
As The Treaty of Peace banned the construction of school outside the designated region, Batchelor also built a new school at Motomachi in Hakodate in 1892 and being alcoholic, Taro was fired and Nettleship was newly appointed the principal.
This time Batchelor went up to Tokyo to be a presbyter and studied theology for six months.
In 1889 he wrote "Japanese Ainu" in English and published "Ainu-English-Japanese dictionary" by the finance of the Hokkaido Government Office.
In 1804 there was a kind of Ainu dictionary, which collected about 2,500 words with Japanese translation classified into the heaven, characters, plants, animals and birds, tools and postpositional word functioning as an auxiliary to a main word. It was the first Ainu-Japanese dictionary that was introduced to Europe by Siebold in 1829. Pfitzmaier, Austrian scholar published the first Ainu grammar by the use of Moshiogusa. Batchelor's "Ainu-English-Japanese dictionary "was epoch-making in explaining Ainu by using romaji.
In January of 1890 Batchelor temporarily returned home and became preacher of a village in Britain for six months. At the end of 1891 he finished translating Marco, Luca, and Johannes into Ainu. In January of 1892 Batchelor moved to Sapporo and in December he built an Ainu style hospital adjacent to his house. Batchelor was widely known among Ainu by his medical service. Fujihiko Sekiba, director of the Public Sapporo Hospital offered a service to the patients in the Ainu style hospital. Batchelor was always embarrassed by the financial shortage. So he wrote to C.M.S. to send money to support the hospital.
In May of 1895 one church was constructed at Piratori, the other at Usu. In 1896 Mary Briant, a woman missionary came to Japan and Batchelor sent her to Piratori for missionary work. She with a certification of nurse worked for sanitation for Ainu and was loved by Ainu. She stayed in Japan for 22 years and on leaving Piratori, Ainu all wept for her.
In 1896 Batchelor published the New Testament into Ainu in Britain. From December of 1901 to spring of 1902, he stayed in London and published "The Ainu and their folklore".
In October of 1906 he adopted Yaeko, the daughter of Tomizo Mukai,because Bachelor and his wife had no child. Yaeko was 22 then. Yaeko helped Bachelor with his missionary and has been known as a poetess of a 31-syllable Japanese poem.
After the Russo-Japanese War Bachelor went to Sakhalin to preach with Yaeko in 1908. In 1909 Bachelor, his wife and Yaeko returned home via Vladivostok by the Siberia Railway. During her stay in Britain Yaeko talked about Ainu women before audience. They sobbed to hear her mentioning the sad plight of Ainu.
Batchelor became acquainted with Yoshichika through director of a post-office and his wish was to build a dormitory for Ainu young men and to make them enter a junior high school. Bachelor asked the financial aid of C.M.S. in London, but he could not get the money. As a result he resigned from the member of C.M.S. and tried to raise money to build the dormitory. Among the cooperators were Yoshichika Tokugawa, Inazo Nitobe, Eiichi Shibusawa and the Imperial House Agency.
In October of 1927 Batchelor published "Ainu Life and Lore" in English from Kyobunkan publishing house and in October of 1928 he also published his autobiography from Bunryokusha publishing company.
In 1936 his wife, Louise died at the age of 91 and was buried at the Maruyama cemetery in Sapporo. Batchelor returned home, which was his fifth homecoming. When he was 85, he completed the fourth edition of "Ainu -English -Japanese dictionary "from Iwanami publishing company through the good offices of Yoshichika Tokugawa.
As anti English feeling increased gradually in Japan, Batchelor decided to leave Japan, where he had made his mind to live until his death. The day before leaving Japan Batchelor asked Yoshichika Tokugawa to leave his dormitory as it stood until he came back to Japan again.
In April of 1944 he returned to his native place, Ackfield by the way of Canada and passed away at the age of 90. An Ainu recalled "Batchelor knew all the things about Ainu. He could speak Ainu as well as Ainu spoke. I know a lot of people that studied Ainu but he spoke Ainu better than any other person."
They called Batchelor the father of Ainu.