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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lake Akan Ainu Village (阿寒湖アイヌコタン)| Kushiro

I'm now in the Akan National Park↓ The lake is still partly frozen even in April!

First, we went to "Lake Akan Ainu Village (阿寒湖アイヌコタン)".
(* Ainu is one of the indigenous people in Japan.)

"Lake Akan Ainu Village (阿寒湖アイヌコタン)" is the biggest Ainu settlement in Hokkaido, and home to 130 Ainu.

When we came here at night, the scenery was like this↓ How romantic it is!

They sell their handmade folk arts here!

I personally recommend their wood crafts and embroidery.....

A lot of my tour guests enjoyed shopping, and communicating them here!

Going up the slope, we can appreciate their altar. The striped owl is one of their most revered gods.

Beside the altar, there are some their traditional housing named chise (チセ)↓

This is ponchise (ポンチセ). Pon means small, and chise means housing in Ainu language. Let's enter it!

Wow! How pon it is! Hahaha!

One of the main attractions here is Ainu performance in the Lake Akan Ainu Theather "Ikoro" (阿寒湖アイヌシアター「イコロ」↓
Look at the tour guest just in front of the theater! He posed like a striped owl!!!

Ainu people have had great respect to the environment where they've lived since ancient times. The traditional dance of the Ainu people, which is designated as an Important Intangible Cultural asset, is performed here several times a day.

We enjoyed some of their performance. For example .................

■ITASANKA (Sitting Song) -- イタサンカ(座り歌)
This song begins with Ainu women sitting around a treasure box, called Shhintoko. It helps women relax at the ceremony.

■UTAREOPUNPAREWA (The first dance of feast) --- 祝宴の時の最初の踊り(ウタレオプンパレワ)

■SARORUNRIMUSE (Crane Dance) --- 鶴の舞(サロルンリムセ)
The dancers mimic cranes' wingspan and voices.

They played their musical instruments, too.

■MUKKURI (Ainu musical instrument) --- 口琴(ムックリ)
Mukkuri is their traditional musical instrument that was typically played by women only. It produces rhythmic, haunting, chant-like sounds.

■TONKORI (Ainu musical insturument) ---竪琴(トンコリ)
Tonkori is often used in performances of the Kamuy-Yukar (songs of the Gods), and religious ceremonies. Tonkori is an important instrument for Ainu culture in which objects themselves are all considered deities. All Tonkori are custom-made for the player and the sizes and designs vary.

They performed  dances that audience can join. For example...........

■SHINENOKKAITONMENMENOKO (Dance of Lady-Killer) --- 色男の踊り(シネンオッカイトゥンメノコ)
This is a humorous dance in which two women fight for one men.

After the performance, one of the audience became a "lady-killer"! Hahaha!

■ESSAHOHO (Dance in a Circle) --- 踊り比べ(エッサーホーホー)
People dance in a circle. There are many different steps and pattern in it.
Of course, I also joined it!

I couldn't take good pictures of "FUTTARECHUI (Dance of Ainu girls with black hair) --- 黒髪の踊り(フッタレチュイ)", but the playful but difficult dance performance by women with long black hairs is one of my favorites. Please check it when you come here!

Thank you very much, performers! We really enjoyed Ainu culture today.

If you want to reproduce the sounds of Mukkuri, you can buy it here. I know it is really difficult to play it, through!

* Are you interested in traditional Ainu dishes? Actually I tried them in this village. Please check my other post, and enjoy them virtually!→click here!

■Where is "Lake Akan Ainu Village (阿寒湖アイヌコタン)"?

View Larger Map

■Tour guide information■
Do you need a nationally-licensed English-speaking tour guide when you travel to Hokkaido?
I'll guide you! Plz click here!


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