Although traditional Aynu culture has declined since the Meiji period, Aynu songs and dances have been transmitted to the present generation, with modifications. This session will introduce the current situation of Aynu culture, and then demonstrate the songs and dances, with live performance.
The Aynu people of Japan have many songs and dances. During the Meiji period, their life conditions changed drastically and their traditional culture declined as a result of the assimilation policy of the Japanese government. Opportunities to sing and dance became fewer. Nevertheless, their performing arts could be transmitted from generation to generation through labor songs, for pleasure in daily life, and for certain ceremonies. In the case of Akan people of eastern Hokkaido, performing arts have been partly reproduced through display for tourists. Traditional Aynu dance preservation associations are also active in Akan and various regions of Hokkaido, to transmit and practice the heritage of songs and dances. “Traditional Aynu dance” was designated an important intangible folk-cultural property by the Japanese government in 1984 and 1994, and was listed as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2009. In this panel we will first review the current situation of Aynu culture and then demonstrate several Aynu songs and dances with explanations by an Aynu music researcher. We will also discuss how research can help in cultural transmission and practice. The performers will be members of Akan Ainu Culture Preservation Society. See download of programme on conference homepage.