Ainu Culture Promotion Center (Sapporo Pirka Kotan)
A hands-on facility where visitors explore the history and culture of the Ainu people, the original inhabitants of Hokkaido.
This culture center teaches visitors about the lifestyle, history, and art of the Ainu people, the indigenous people who settled in the north and developed a unique culture. This facility, the first of its kind in Japan to focus on original inhabitants, allows visitors to see, touch, and experience first-hand numerous traditional Ainu craftworks made by Ainu artisans. In the Ainu language, “Sapporo Pirka Kotan” means “beautiful village in Sapporo.” The exhibitions include some 300 items such as traditional clothing and tools, which visitors are allowed to hold in their hands. The Ainu Association of Hokkaido Sapporo Branch also holds workshops that teach Ainu embroidery and how to make the traditional Ainu musical instrument Mukkuri at the center (reservations and fees required; contact Ainu Association of Hokkaido Sapporo Branch at 011-596-1610).
Check out yearly cultural events such as traditional ritual dances and Ainu cuisine!
Sapporo Pirka Kotan also holds various ceremonies and cultural events (admission is free except for the exhibition room). After taking in the Ainu culture we recommend stopping by the Koganeyu Hot Springs for a refreshing soak.
Asir-pa-nomi (Ceremony to Welcome the New Year)
Experience traditional Ainu ritual dances (circle dances) after the ceremony ends at the house, called “cise.” The circle dances are performed during ceremonies, celebratory events, and other times when family gathers, and are a method of expressing respect and gratitude to elders and the gods. Why not try taking part?
Inkar-us-pe: Ainu Cultural Festival
Enjoy various Ainu cultural traditional music events, including a contest featuring the traditional Ainu instruments Mukkuri and Tonkori, dance performances, and the “Yukar,” an epic of oral literature, held by the dance troupe.
Kotan-nomi (A ceremony to pray for the prosperity of the home and the village)
After the ceremony is held at the cise (home), participate in traditional Ainu ritual dance (circle dance).
July through October (held a total of 6 times)
Cultural exchange event
Partake in various Ainu activities such as traditional Ainu ritual dance and Ainu music performances, workshops where you can create items such as Mukkuri and straps made from tree bark*, and Ainu children’s games. A “Pirka Kotan Lunch”, which consists of Ainu dishes homemade by the members of the dance troupe, is also sold the venue. Why not ask them about the ingredients or the recipe?
*The content of the crafts workshop (paid) will vary by event.
*For specific dates and times, be sure to check event schedule on the official site.