Hokkaido Photo Tours with Ainu Dance
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Saturday, March 30, 2019
By Japan Dreamscapes
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Japan Dreamscapes Hokkaido Photography Workshops often include a visit to Lake Akanko.  Lake Akanko is home to the largest Ainu settlement in Hokkaido, being home to approximately 130 Ainu people.  Their dances and performances have been identified as an important intangible cultural asset, and once you take a Hokkaido Photography Tour with JDS, you can see with your own eyes and viewfinder why their dances carry such a distinction.


The Ainu are known as a First Nations People and use dance to commemorate several elements of their cultural tradition and pass down those traditions via performance from elder to young tribal members.  Of course, the dances carry small variations based on the performers inherent tendencies, but the core elements of the dances remain the same.  For example, to scare away evil spirits, Ainu men brandish swords and perform the EMUSHIMUSE.  This is performed to showcase the skill and courage of Ainu men and keep evil spirits at bay.  The Ainu also perform photogenic musings of hunters in pursuit of prey.  One particularly interesting dance is the KURIMUSE which shares an aesthetic appreciation of a bird so the hunter marvels at it and forgets to shoot as it flutters away.  The subtle expressions of the actors faces and the nuances make for memorable performances and once in a life time photography.  By enshrining their performances on film during your Hokkaido Photo Tour, you are helping preserve their rich cultural heritage.


Although the sword dance is for men only, there are some elements of Ainu cultural tradition that are exclusively the domain of the woman.  The Ainu women don traditional garb, which already merit photographers’ attention, and then the glorious melody from their MUKKURI, or traditional folk instruments will make you snap photos along with stealing moments to listen to their song.  Adding to photos, your JDS Photography Workshop Guide recommends that you also indulge in video so you can record the music as well as the amazing images so you may treasure the rhythmic chanting that accompanies the spectacular dance performance.

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