Shiranuka Ainu Association
Established in April 1975, as Shiranuka branch of Hokkaido Utari Association, Shiranuka Ainu Association took its present name in April 2014. Its goal is to enhance the social status of the Ainu and to help preserving, transmitting and developing Ainu culture. Among its main activities, the yearly organisation of traditional rituals known as the “Three major Ainu festivals”: Hometown Icharupa Festival, Humpe Icharupa Festival and Shishamo Festival. It also organises different activities on traditional culture, such as lectures on traditional dances, workshops on Ainu pattern embroidery, lectures on the Ainu origin of place names, workshop on mukkuri (mouth harp)-making, lecture on tonkori (five-string instrument) technique with live performance, Ainu language lessons, etc. In 2007, the Association worked together with Shiranuka Town on the “Shiranuka Ainu Cultural year – Ureshipa Shirarika” during which they promoted various projects together with Shiranuka Ainu Culture Preservation Society. They started cultural exchanges with Taiwan indigenous people in 2009, and, in November 2016, established a friendship relationship between indigenous communities with the Association of indigenous weavers of Wulai District, in New Taipei City.
Shiranuka Ainu Culture Preservation Society
Since its establishment in April 1984, Shiranuka Ainu Culture Preservation Society has been working on preserving and passing on Ainu traditional folk culture, including traditional dances, rituals, costumes, crafts, etc. They also strive to promote Ainu culture through presentations during various cultural events within and outside the town. Since 1994 and its addition as a constituent member of the preservation association for the Ainu traditional dances, which are designated as National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, the Preservation Society has put efforts into the transmission of traditional dances, and its actions were rewarded in 2002 with the Hokkaido Culture Preservation Award. In 2007, during the “Shiranuka Ainu Cultural year – Ureshipa Shirarika”, the Preservation Society played a central role in various activities along with Shiranuka Ainu Association, and the program of visiting lectures on Ainu culture in primary and junior high school that started that year is still a pillar of the town’s “Hometown education program”. The Preservation Society also organises songs and mukkuri (mouth harp) performances, embroidery and cooking class as part of hands-on learning experiences on Ainu culture in Hachioji City (Tokyo Metropolis), which has a long history of relations with Shiranuka Town. Since 2009, the Preservation Society has also been engaged in cultural exchanges with Taiwan indigenous people, together with Shiranuka Ainu Association.