Published on : Thursday, August 24, 2017
Not every visitor to Japan looks for Ginza glam or Kyoto antiquities. Hence, Lake Akan and its hot springs, in the eastern part of the country’s northernmost prefecture, are attempting a new strategy to attract more tourists by highlighting the culture of the indigenous Ainu people and their reverence for Hokkaido’s pristine environment.
The first Irankarapte music festival was held at the Lake Akan Ainu Theater on June 17th.
Irankarapte means “Please let me touch your heart gently” in the Ainu language. The event is considered to convey the sensibilities of the Ainu people through music.
The head of town planning at the Lake Akan Tourist Association, Masayuki Onishi, is working on an event to be staged in the dark of the night in a forest. Images based on Ainu mythology will be projected onto a stand of trees, against a pitch-black background. The organizers believe that this event will be the first of its kind, blending indigenous culture and nature. The event is scheduled to take place in the summer of 2018.
Onishi said, “To increase the number of foreign guests. We need bold approaches that promote the characteristics of Lake Akan.”
However, this is not the first attempt to showcase Ainu culture to the overseas visitors. The community has sought to market sculptures and fashions incorporating traditional motifs.
Under this goal, shop owners in Akan are planning to wear traditional clothing and greet guests in the Ainu language. A vacant house will be turned into a fashionable art gallery for displaying traditional crafts. Kohei Fujito, a sculptor who lives near Lake Akan, attended the event for the first time as a representative of the Ainu people. He was commissioned to create a commemorative work for the event.