usolee

Sapporo Ainu Culture Promotion Center

Finally! I heard about it, saw programs about it, and I finally got to be about it.

Native cultures are one of my main interests. They are windows into our past that represent where you and I came from. They are the foundations of our modern knowledge. Native peoples understanding of patterns in nature, attention to the night sky, and beliefs always give me food for thought. No matter where you go on this small planet it’s hard to imagine you are the only person to have been there. It’s as if every step you take is in the footprints of those before you. As soon as you think you have made new ground you find more footprints ahead of you. An inescapable truth, native peoples were here before.

Yet even before those native people were people. So I guess the most recent peoples within a few thousand years get that ‘native’ label. Before them I guess we use labels like ‘ancient’ or something.

In particular what is so intriguing to me is the connection native peoples all over the world shared with their environment. This intimate connection – between a group of people and the environment they occupy, manipulate, and rely on – is a connection I have been drawn to during my time in multiple places on this planet. Everywhere I go I can’t help but think about how people lived in this place 5, 20, 100, 1000, 30,000 years ago. How the landscape must have looked back then. What kind of animals and plants were growing here? What temperature was it? How many groups of people were there? If I was there how would I fit in? How did they communicate? What kind of language would I hear? How did they build things? What kind of tools did they use? What kind of games did the children play? Who do they believe created them? How did they treat wounds? What kind of sickness did they have? Birth defects? Seriously, the list does not stop.

As you can imagine, I was delighted to have many of my questions answered as I walked through this place.

This one is made out of salmon skin. Get a closer look below

This is an Ainu 5 string instrument called a ‘tonkori.’

The following are some Ainu weapons.

The following is a multi-purpose tool. Take a guess at what it was used for. (To see the answer, just scroll over the picture until the answer pops up)

The following are Ainu showcases. You can either click on the images to enlarge them and read the labels, or scroll over the image for information about the object(s).

There are houses you can check out as well.
This one even had a real-life Ainu person in it!

Here he his again! With a friend this time, making some sort of paste.

And now for a little lesson. First up: Ainu patterns

Second up: Ainu greetings

And now for a listen to the real thing:

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