National Ainu Museum and Park (Upopoy)

The National Ainu Museum and Park, also known as Upopoy, is a cultural facility located in northern japan that aims to promote the life and culture of the Ainu people. The Ainu are an ethnic group indigenous to the region, and Upopoy serves as a platform for people to gather and learn about their history and traditions. With interactive exhibits and educational programs, Upopoy offers a comprehensive look into the unique heritage of the Ainu.

One of the highlights of Upopoy is the Traditional Ainu dance, which has been designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This dance showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Ainu people and is a must-see for visitors. Additionally, Upopoy features a reproduction of a traditional Ainu village called the Kotan, where visitors can immerse themselves in the daily life and customs of the Ainu.

To reach Upopoy, visitors can take a train to JR Shiraoi Station, which is the closest station to the facility. From there, it is just a ten-minute walk to Upopoy. For those traveling by car, parking is available at the facility. The accessibility of Upopoy makes it easy for visitors to explore and learn about the Ainu culture.

The main attraction at Upopoy is the National Ainu Museum, Japan’s northernmost national museum. The museum houses a permanent exhibition that covers six themes related to the Ainu people and their culture: Language, Universe, Lives, History, Work, and Exchange. Visitors can freely roam the exhibition hall and gain insights into Ainu culture through interactive displays and exhibits. One of the unique features of the museum is Tempatempa, an interactive space where visitors can touch and feel models, dioramas, and puzzles based on the exhibition’s themes.

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In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum also has a special exhibition hall that showcases the latest research on Ainu culture and other indigenous cultures in Japan. The theater in the museum screens short films that provide an overview of Ainu history and spirituality, as well as exhibitions on Ainu culture in museums around the world. These films offer a comprehensive understanding of the Ainu culture and its global significance.

Outside the museum, visitors can explore the National Ainu Park, which offers a chance to experience Ainu crafts, cuisine, and music firsthand. The park is surrounded by lush greenery and walking paths that emphasize the Ainu culture’s connection with nature. The Cultural Exchange Hall in the park hosts traditional music and dance performances, including the Intangible Cultural Heritage dance. These performances showcase the unique musical instruments of the Ainu, such as the mukkuri and tonkori.

At the Crafts Studio in the park, visitors can witness demonstrations of Ainu woodcarving, embroidery, knitting, and weaving. Educational commentaries accompany these demonstrations, providing visitors with insights into the traditional crafts and techniques. For those interested in trying their hand at Ainu crafts, workshops are available where visitors can learn and create their own pieces.

The Kotan, located at the northernmost edge of Upopoy, is a reproduction of a traditional Ainu village. Inside the Kotan, visitors can explore a traditional Ainu home known as a cise and listen to audio guides that explain the Ainu way of life and their spiritual beliefs. Visitors can also try on Ainu clothing and participate in traditional ceremonies, providing a deeper understanding of the Ainu culture and its rituals.

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Upopoy has a crucial mission of preserving and promoting Ainu culture and history. With fewer people able to pass on Ainu traditions to the next generation, Upopoy serves as a space for safeguarding Ainu heritage. It acts as a center for learning, allowing people from around the world to discover and appreciate the vibrant Ainu culture. Additionally, Upopoy serves as a research center for Ainu studies and a symbol of the Japanese government’s commitment to respecting and honoring its indigenous people.

In conclusion, the National Ainu Museum and Park, also known as Upopoy, is a cultural facility in northern Japan that celebrates the life and culture of the Ainu people. Through its interactive exhibits, educational programs, and immersive experiences, Upopoy offers visitors a comprehensive understanding of the Ainu heritage. From traditional dances and music performances to workshops on Ainu crafts and cuisine, Upopoy provides a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the rich cultural traditions of the Ainu. As a space for learning and preservation, Upopoy plays a vital role in ensuring that the Ainu culture continues to thrive and be recognized both in Japan and around the world.

Address And Maps Location:

2 Chome-3 Wakakusacho, Shiraoi District, Shiraoi, Hokkaido

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