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Ainu History and Culture

1●Ainu People
2●Eating Habits
3●Wild Vegetable
10●Religion/"Sending Spirits Back"
11●Life of the Ainu
12●Sacred Dances
13●Oral Literature
15●Ainu Museum

Ainu Museum

Ainu Museum, popularly known as "Porotokotan" was established in 1976 as the Shiraoi Foundation for the Preservation of Ainu Culture. This cultural education facility aims to carry out comprehensive educational promotion projects, such as the transmission, preservation, research and study of Ainu culture. In 1984, the Ainu Folk Museum was added to this facility to exhibit both tangible and intangible Ainu cultural assets and to perform academic research and study. In 1990, the facility was reopened under the auspices of The Ainu Museum Foundation.

The design of the museum, as an outdoor museum, is divided into the modern and "kotan" zones, in the latter of which a complete reproduction of a "kotan"(village) is arranged, including several "chise" (houses) , "pu" (a storehouse for food), "heper set" (a bear cage), and "chip" (a canoe) . Inside a "chise," explanations on Ainu history and culture are given, and traditional dances are performed at all times for the visitors.

The museum houses about 5,000 Ainu folk materials and about 200 articles of minority groups of the northern regions, including of the Nivkh, Uilta, Sami, and Inuit, of which 1, 500 articles are on permanent display. The library of the museum includes about 100 Ainu paintings and about 6, 000 books and other literature.

In order to promote transmission and preservation of Ainu culture, traditional ceremonies are being carried out, including " iyomante" (sending back the spirit of bears), "iwakte" (sending back the spirit of objects), "chipsanke" (a boat launching ceremony), and "shinnurappa"(a ceremony in memory of ancestors) . Traditional Ainu dances, which are being transmitted and preserved by this museum's personnel were designated as important intangible cultural properties by the national government in 1984. Sixteen traditional folk dances are currently being transmitted and preserved, of which three are being performed for the visitors.


Folk arts, including loom-weaving, making straw mats, making folk garments and embroidery are always demonstrated, with the aim of enlightening the general public on Ainu culture and of popularizing it.

Ainu museum


Ainu museum




Ainu Museum 3-4, Wakakusa-cho 2-chome, Shiraoi-gun, Hokkaido, JAPAN 059-0902

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