Hokkaido’s largest museum relating to the Ainu
Poroto kotan means “big lake village” in the Ainu language. The Ainu Museum (Porotokotan) dates back to the 1970s, when an Ainu settlement was restored in the area where the museum now stands and archives were established by the town of Shiraoi. A new museum building was subsequently constructed and other facilities were added and improved to form the facility as it is today.In Poroto Kotan, pu (storerooms), heper set (cages for bear cubs), chig (canoes) and other traditional facilities have been restored around five chise (houses) to recreate the atmosphere of an Ainu community. The houses are used as venues for Ainu folk dance, other traditional art performances and handicraft demonstrations to keep intangible Ainu cultural assets alive and highlight their appeal. Plants closely related to Ainu life are grown in a botanical garden on the museum premises, and traditional Ainu meals are served at a lakeside restaurant. Visitors can experience various aspects of Ainu culture through hands-on workshops featuring activities such as making mukkur (a traditional Ainu musical instrument), Ainu pattern embroidery, carving and traditional Ainu food sampling.
The museum houses more than 5,000 Ainu-related artifacts!
The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts from the culture of the Ainu, who used to live in Hokkaido, Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands and the northern Tohoku region. Inside the chise houses, Ainu clothing, food and accommodation are highlighted to facilitate visitors’ understanding of the Ainu lifestyle. Museum staff also research Ainu culture, and the facility serves as a base for exchanges with other indigenous peoples from around the world.
The museum’s collection consists of approximately 5,000 Ainu artifacts and around 250 Nivkh, Uilta, Sami and Inuit artifacts. Among these, 800 items are permanently exhibited. Weaving to make traditional Ainu handicrafts, straw mat making, Ainu folk garment making and Ainu pattern embroidery are also demonstrated on an ongoing basis.
Plans are being made for the development of an area to symbolize Ainu culture containing a national museum in 2020 by Lake Poroto, where the Ainu Museum is located, in order to provide information on the culture of Japan’s indigenous Ainu people.
This facility will become a national museum in 2020 to promote Ainu culture!
Among numerous regions and facilities in Japan that provide information on their own cultures to the world, this area where the planned construction of Japan’s fifth national museum will take place is particularly worthy of domestic and international attention.