Arts and Performances

What's now showing in the East-West Center Gallery, John A. Burns Hall, 1601 East West Road, Honolulu:

Gallery hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, and Noon-4:00 p.m. on Sundays.

The Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan. “Ainu” means “human” in the Ainu language. They once inhabited northern Honshu (Japan’s largest island), Hokkaido, southern Sakhalin, and the Kurile Islands.Most Ainu now live in Hokkaido,with a limited number in Tokyo, in other parts of Japan, and abroad.

In recent decades, indigenous people throughout the world have taken the initiative to revive their traditional cultures and the Ainu are no exception. One of the examples of such an attempt is a project for Ainu artists tomake replicas of Ainu artifacts owned by various museums. This activity is helpful for the Ainu people to regain what has been lost and integrate the traditional skills of ancestors into contemporary works. Moreover, these new cultural resources inspire both innovation and creativity among Ainu artists.

This exhibition features modern Ainu masterpieces and reproductions of Ainu artifacts held by Hokkaido University’s Botanic Garden Museum; early 20th century Ainu handicrafts from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu; historic and contemporary photographs of Ainu craftsmen; and video clips showing historical and social context.

For more details, click here to view the pdf file of the exhibit handout.

Related exhibition events.  All in the East-West Center Gallery and free of charge, unless noted.

Sunday, January 20, 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Exhibition Gala Opening including reception, invocation ceremony and art demonstration

Sunday, February 3, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Illustrated talk “Ainu 101: Japan’s Indigenous People”
Vincent Mitsuharu Okada, UH doctoral candidate in social welfare

Sunday, February 17, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Illustrated hands-on presentation
“Ainu: Teaching Young Learners the Importance of Preserving Culture and Language”
Terrina Wong and Naomi Hirano-Omizo

Sunday,March 3, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Performance Demonstration by Oki and Marewrew quartet, renowned Ainu musicians.

March 1-3
Ainu artists will performat the Hawai‘i Convention Center and in Waikiki, as part of Honolulu Festival.

Sunday, March 10, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Illustrated talk “From ku=kor ikor (my treasures) to an=kor ikor (our treasures):
New Perspectives and Challenges in Ainu Art”
Nanako Iwasa, M.Ed. and doctoral student
Hokkaido University Graduate School of Education

Sunday, April 14, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Illustrated talk “An Illegal Dam Still Stands: The Nibutani Dam and Nibutani Village”
UH Law Professor Mark Levin discusses environmental action by Ainu villagers

Sunday, May 5, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Illustrated talk “Handprints of Our Ancestors: Curating an Exhibition about Ainu Traditions and Continuity”
Guest curator Koji Yamasaki, Associate Professor Hokkaido University Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies, discusses his work with the Ainu community.

Researched and presented with the cooperation of the

Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies,
Hokkaido University

Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum,
Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Honolulu Festival

The Botanic Garden & Museum,
Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere,
Hokkaido University

The Global COE
“Reshaping Japan’s Border Studies,”
Hokkaido University

The Ainu Museum, Hokkaido

The Ainu Treasures project was made possible by generous support from The Japan Foundation and Hawaiian Airlines.

Additional support provided by the Hawaii Pacific Rim Society, Friends of Hawaii Charities, Honolulu Festival, The Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture, The Ainu Association of Hokkaido, and contributors to the EWC Foundation, including members of the EWC Arts ‘Ohana.

Free group tours are available to school and community groups. Performance demonstrations by top artists from the Asia Pacific are offered as well. For details contact Eric Chang, 808-944-7584.