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Ainu Stories: Contemporary Lives by the Saru River

For the first time in the UK, discover the Ainu culture of today through personal stories from this indigenous community from the southern Hokkaido region of Biratori at Japan House London.

Historically, members of the Ainu community were not able to fully express their distinct culture, however a movement to celebrate and sustain the Ainu language, textiles, crafts and traditions continues to gather pace, in particular among younger members of the Ainu community.

Ainu Stories is a collaboration with the people of Biratori, an area located in the Saru River basin in southern Hokkaido. Through intimate video interviews and displays of contemporary Ainu works, this exhibition explores the central pillars of contemporary Ainu culture: the critically endangered language; society and the preservation of the environment; Ainu textiles, song and dance; and a woodcarving industry bolstered by tourism.

The exhibition also reveals surprising historical links between the UK and Biratori, telling the stories of key British figures and some of the lasting relationships they forged with the Ainu community.

Ainu Stories is complemented by a rich programmer of events, encompassing dance, language, cuisine, policy and craft, with the kind cooperation of the people of Biratori throughout the exhibition period.

Credit: Japan House London and Jérémie Souteyrat

The exhibit runs from 16 November 2023 to 21 April 2024 at Japan House London, a short walk from the High Street Kensington underground station. Tickets are free and you can book them from the Japan House website.

Find out more at the exhibition web page: Ainu Stories: Contemporary Lives by the Saru River - Japan House London

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