Hokkaido Ainu release video featuring traditional performances to present the culture to the world

SAPPORO — Hoping to further promote Ainu culture on the world stage, performers of traditional Ainu dances and music have produced a promotional video with the aim of having it shown at various events planned for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

The Hokkaido prefectural government and the Ainu Association of Hokkaido led the production of the video, which is available on the association’s website.

The title of the video, “Upopo yan rimse yan,” is an Ainu expression that means “Let’s sing, let’s dance.” The 31-minute video consists of 13 programs, including dances themed upon bows and swords and the so-called dance of black hair — all traditionally performed mainly in Hokkaido’s Asahikawa, Obihiro and Kushiro regions — as well as a performance using a mukkuri mouth harp.

About 20 people who are engaged in passing down traditional Ainu performances gathered from across Hokkaido to perform in the video. By sharing their styles and traditions with one another, the participants came up with new expressions in the process of making the video.

To improve the quality of the show as a stage performance, musician Hideaki Takahashi and Japanese dancer Shinnosuke Fujima also took part in the production and created a multilayered stage space for the show.

“We want to introduce to the world Ainu culture as one ethos in Japan that we are proud of,” said Debo Akibe, who directed the video. “We’ve released this video to show part of our efforts. We’ll continue arranging and refining it.”