Hokkaido Day 9: Ainu Village 

In the morning we traveled to a nearby Ainu village. This place is a popular location for tourists as well as school children who are learning about the native Ainu people and cultures. Personally it makes me a little sad that places like these are one of the main ways to keep Ainu tradition alive by appealing to tourists, but I think it is important to know some history of you are coming to Hokkaido.

When we first walked in we were drawn to the animals. There are dog and bear cages here; the dogs were really cute and one was particularly friendly. You aren’t supppsed to touch them, but I went to the side and pet one. I feel so sorry for them that they probably live most of their life in a cage. I really hope they at least walk them. The bears on the other hand were absolutely horrible. Ainu people believe that the bear is a sacred animal and used to kill them in the old times to release their spirit to heaven. Although they are considered gods, they treat them quite poorly in my opinion and are kept in cages. You can feed the bears treats for 100 yen but they look so depressed and uninterested. One bear was even walking around in circles and going crazy. There are some online petitions against the treatment of these bears online, but I’m not sure what can be done. There has to be a way to respect the native culture and the dignity of the animal. 

There are several Ainu houses that you can see. Some of the houses have volunteers who are weaving baskets or carving objects out of wood.

In addition, there are scheduled performances throughout the day. Men and women of different ages perform various songs and dances. I didn’t take any pictures to be respectful. The young man who was half Ainu who introduced the show was very kind and enthusiastic. I did my best to understand the Japanese.
Afterwards we visited a small museum that housed a collection of a wealthy family’s possessions. I forgot the history, but he helped establish the area. They had so many beautiful and expensive objects!

We only visited a couple places so that we could relax the rest of the day at the wonderful hotel. I went into the onsen again and then watched the fireworks from my room. I’m really going to miss this hotel…

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