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 Kanto Utari Association

Established in 1980 in order to enhance interactions among the Ainu living in Greater Tokyo and their families, to promote traditional Ainu culture and to eliminate racism and prejudice against the Ainu. Activities include regular meetings to learn the Ainu culture, songs and dances, embroidery and musical instruments such as the Tonkori (the Ainu string instrument) and Ainu language classes for mothers and children (now temporarily closed). The Association holds the Ainu Embroidery Exhibition every year, which is open to the public free of charge, and an open study session on the Ainu culture and human rights.
The Association took the lead in voicing objections when then Prime Minister Nakasone made a remark in 1986 that Japan was an ethnically homogeneous nation.

 Tokyo Ainu Association

Established in October, 1996 with its membership consisting of Ainu whose hometown is Urakawa, Hokkaido. The current President, Haruzo Urakawa, opened Kamuy Mintara, an Ainu cultural facility, in Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture in 2005. Its opening was celebrated by many local people as well as indigenous guests from the U.S. and Canada. The Association held the “Kamuy Nomi” (an Ainu ceremony to offer prayers to the God of Fire) and the “Icarpa” (an Ainu ceremony to commemorate ancestors) at a treatment house for Hansen’s disease patients in Miyazaki.

Elder Shizue Ukaji, a noted Ainu embroidery artist and activist, published children’s books illustrated by her unique “kofue” technique, which uses old Japanese cloths and creates pictures by attaching pieces of appliqué fabric on the background cloth with Ainu embroidery. The two elders, Urakawa and Ukaji, along with Vice President Takumi Hoshino, were invited to make presentations at Harvard University and MIT in 2001. In May 2008, Kamuy Mintara held a spring festival featuring an Ainu cultural preservation group from Mukawa, Hokkaido, and other international performers from Australia, Ukraine, etc.

 Pewre Utari Association

at Charanke Festival
(Photo Maki Yanagimachi)
“Peure” is an Ainu word meaning young and “utari” means fellow people. The Association was established in summer 1964, as a result of interactions between the Ainu and the non-Ainu Japanese who worked at Lake Akan, Hokkaido. For 45 years since then, the Ainu and Japanese members have been learning the Ainu language, songs and dances, and other aspects of the Ainu culture. It organizes study sessions and symposiums and participates in events such as the annual Charanke Festival held at Nakano, Tokyo.

Another feature of the Association is its social awareness raising activities through which the members promote Ainu human rights and aim to create a society free of discrimination and prejudice.

 Rera Association

The Rera Association started in 1983 as the Rera Association for Contemplating the Current Situation of the Ainu People. Its activities aim to recover Ainu rights, inherit the Ainu culture and raise awareness on Ainu issues. In 1994, it opened Rera-Cise, an Ainu restaurant, with the help of many supporters.
The Association is a main organizer of “Tokyo Icarpa—Sinritumosir Koicarpa”, an ancestral commemoration ceremony for the Ainu who were forcibly brought to Tokyo to attend the Hokkaido Aboriginal Training School in 1872 and died in Tokyo far away from their homeland. The ceremony is held at Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo every August.

Street Campaign for
the fund raising
(Photo Makiko Ui)

 Other Ainu-related Facilities

Ainu Culture Center (Yaesu, Tokyo)

A branch of the Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture, this is a multi-purpose center to support interactions among the Ainu in Greater Tokyo and their cultural activities as well as to promote interactions between the Ainu and the non-Ainu and to collect and disseminate information on the Ainu culture.

Rera-Cise (Nakano, Tokyo)

The only Ainu restaurant in Tokyo, established as a base for Ainu activities and for the dissemination of information relating to the Ainu culture with a focus on Ainu food. The evening menu includes salmon and venison dishes (these were a staple food for the Ainu), other traditional and contemporary Ainu dishes and local Hokkaido dishes. Gourmet lunch is also served: miso-flavored Ramen with “kitopiro” (a wild leek commonly eaten by the Ainu, with a flavor similar to garlic, and difficult to get in urban areas) on Tuesday through Thursday and venison or salmon curry on Friday through Sunday. Ainu language classes and mini Ainu and Ryukyu live performances are also held. Closed on Monday.

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