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Ainu Culture

Come see how Ainu culture coexists with nature.

Many town and city names in Hokkaido are derived from the Ainu language. In Asahikawa, there is a place called “kamuy kotan,” which translates to “village of the gods.” The Ainu have considered this area sacred for many years. Today, the Ainu are recognized as indigenous peoples of Japan and their oral literature, clothing patterns and other traditional crafts are recognized as Hokkaido Heritage.
At the Kussharo Kotan Ainu Folk Museum on the shores of Lake Kussharo, you can visit a traditional Ainu house, known as “chise.” The Ainu believe that all natural elements are reincarnations of gods, who they refer to as “kamuy.” It is believed that gods live in the mountains, the sea, fire, wind, animals, plants, tools, and clothing.
The Ainu Kotan Theater in Akan provides a deeper look into the Ainu culture. Here you can see ancient Ainu dance performances that are believed to be a blessing to the gods and their ancestors, helping them ward off bad spirits for the year. These dances are listed as an “Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of the Nation,” as well as a UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage.