Kamuy Mintara, Chiba Prefecture, Greater Tokyo, 2012. Ainu elder Haruzo Urakawa in his home. Kamuy Mintara, meaning `Playground of Gods`, is the traditional Ainu home that 75 years old Haruzo Urakawa built by himself in the mountains outside of Tokyo. Here, he lives as close as possible to the traditional Ainu lifestyle which, as a child in Hokkaido, he had learned from his father.
Ainu traditions involve hunting, fishing and gathering, performing daily animistic rituals, and making crafts. As well as being a home, Kamuy Mintara is a meeting place for the dissemination of Ainu culture, which Haruzo Urakawa has been promoting among his own community and beyond since his youth. Haruzo Urakawa is the honorary president of the Tokyo Ainu Association.

Ainu an Exhibition – Laura Liverani

(2009- 2013)

The Ainu, the native people of Japan, were officially recognized as an ethnicity in 2008, after more than a century of discrimination and oppression which almost completely effaced their language, society and culture. Today several individuals and groups across Japan are involved in Ainu rights, cultural revitalization and diffusion. This photographic series explores contemporary Ainu identity and culture, focusing on representation and self-representation of the Ainu, both within institutions such as museums and outside, in everyday’s life practices. The work, still in progress, started in 2009 and aims at raising questions about a culture in the process of changing and redefining itself.

My new project AINU will be presented at Ciclo Cultural du Japon in Valencia, Spain, 14-28 of November. I will be attending the exhibition between Sat 23 and Sun 24. In the occasion of the exhibition, the photographs will be accompanied by a text by Marcos Centeno, director of the documentary film Ainu. Caminos a la memoria (2013) which will also premiere in Valencia. Hope to see you there.

Read A New Age for Ainu: Interview with Hasegawa Osamu