Cipsanke boat festival in Nibutani

The Cipsanke boat festival in Nibutani. Image: Ogawa Masaki

Booking opening soon.

Experience Ainu culture as it exists today in the southern Hokkaido region of Biratori in this UK-first exploration of the contemporary lives of this indigenous people of northern Japan.

Historically, members of the Ainu community were not able to fully express their distinct culture, however a movement to celebrate and sustain the Ainu language, textiles, crafts and traditions continues to gather pace, in particular among younger members of the Ainu community.

Ainu Stories is a collaboration with the people of Biratori, an area located in the Saru River basin in southern Hokkaido. Through intimate video interviews and displays of contemporary Ainu works, the exhibition explores four central themes of contemporary Ainu culture: the critically endangered language; society and the preservation of the environment; Ainu textiles, song and dance; and woodcarving and tourism.

The exhibition also reveals surprising historical links between the UK and Biratori, telling the stories of 19th century British explorers who forged lasting relationships with the Ainu.

Ainu Stories is complemented by a rich events programme, covering dance, language, cuisine, policy and craft, and featuring guests from Biratori throughout the exhibition period. Sign up to the Japan House London newsletter to be the first to hear.