Yesterday was an eventful day for us! We started our morning with a one hour bus ride to Hokkaido University. Upon our arrival I think itʻs safe to say that we were ALL astonished at the amount of snowfall outside! For many of us it was our first time playing in the snow!
We then attended a lecture at Hokkaido University’s Center for Ainu Indigenous Studies. We were greeted by Professor Tangiku, a fellow researcher who specializes in Ainu ethnography and folk tales. Researchers estimate that there are approximately 50,000-60,000 ethnic Ainu left. Many of them live in Hokkaido, although some Ainu live in other areas such as Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities. We learned that there are only about 10 native Ainu speakers left, therefore preservation of the Ainu language and culture is imperative. In the Ainu culture, it is inappropriate for a parent to teach their child the ways of the Ainu. An individual learns much of their culture and language from another relative, such as an uncle or aunt. In order to be a leader in the Ainu culture one must fulfill three virtues: 1) sirekok [appearance], 2) pawepok [voice/oratory skills], and 3) rametuk [courage].
Here is a picture of us with Professor Tangiku