Ainu Kotan Village
The word kotan means village or community in the Ainu language, and people with Ainu ancestry in Lake Akan Hot Springs Resort account for a total of nearly 130 people in 36 households, making the area Hokkaido's largest Ainu community. The main street of the Kotan is lined on both sides with folk art stores and restaurants, and at the Onne Chise at the center of the village, visitors can watch ancient Ainu dance and listen to performances of the traditional Ainu Jew's harp, known as the mukkuri.
See, Taste, Shop & Enjoy Ainu Kotan VillageAinu Kotan Village offers a wide array of folk art souvenir stores, restaurants where you can enjoy the tastes of Hokkaido or authentic Ainu cuisine, cafes and more. Ainu folk art mainly centers on wood carvings, with numerous items available such as knick-knacks and beautiful jewelry with animal and bird motifs and the traditional Ainu Jew's harp, or mukkuri, and shopping in the bustling and delightful shops of the Ainu Kotan Village is popular among many tourists. In addition, many restaurants and cafes offer visitors a chance to try local specialties or light snacks. Indulge yourself and enjoy the taste of inventively arranged Ainu cuisine!
Ancient Ainu Dance & New Culture - "Yukar Theater"At the Onne Chise in the center of Ainu Kotan Village, the traditional Ainu outlook on nature and the world is expressed through ancient dance, and performances are held here daily. Unique to Hokkaido, the ancient dance of the Ainu has been designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset of Japan. Moreover, as a disseminate of new Ainu culture begun (several years ago) the world renowned epic oral tradition of the Ainu, known as yukar, has been adapted to the stage and performed as the "Yukar Theater," gaining a wide following among tourists. The "Yukar Theatre" has performed in such locations including Paris, UNESCO headquarters, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as throughout Japan, and has been highly acclaimed.
In addition to this, the normal ancient Ainu dance performances are changed in the fall and held nightly at the open-air site , adding to the full impact of the Iomante Fire Festival.
Experience Ainu Culture!At the Ainu Kotan Village's Pon-Chise Ainu Memorial Museum and Nitaitou Forest & Lake Museum of Fine Arts, visitors can learn about the traditional Ainu way of life and culture. In the Pon-Chise (Ainu for "small house"), a re-created traditional Ainu home, guests are afforded a view of the lifestyle of the Ainu people of long ago through exhibits of the clothes and tools used in the everyday life at the time. Listen to the Ainu folk-tales told by village ekashi (elders) and fuchi (wise-women), you'll be able to feel for yourself the spirit of the Ainu and their lifestyle of living in harmony with nature.
As the native inhabitants of Hokkaido, the pursuits of the four seasons, such as the livelihood, hunting and ceremonies of the Ainu people with their unique culture of coexistence with nature, is beautifully expressed utilizing Ainu wood carvings and other media at the Nitaitou Forest & Lake Museum of Fine Art. In addition to this, many enjoyable events are on tap such as Ainu pattern embroidery workshops, mukkuri-making and wood carving classes, (lectures on Ainu history) and snowshoeing during winter.