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The statue of Shakushain in Ma'uta Park. Photo by Michael J. Ioannides

NHK World Documentary on 2023 Shakushain Memorial Ceremony

On September 23, 2023, the 77th annual Shakushain memorial festival and ceremony was held in Ma’uta Park in Shin-Hidaka town, Hokkaido. One of the largest annual gatherings of Ainu people and their supporters held throughout the year, the event attracted more than 1,000 visitors, including Ainu people from communities all over Hokkaido. AinuToday members Dr. Kanako Uzawa and Michael J. Ioannides were fortunate enough to be able to attend the event, which featured delicious Ainu cuisine, Icarpa and Kamuy Nomi ceremonies, and performances by cultural preservation groups from many different Ainu communities.

NHK World recently aired an English-language documentary program on the event, which is available to watch online from this link: NHK World Presents- Preserving Ainu Culture for the Future: Shin-Hidaka Town. AinuToday member Michael J. Ioannides gives a short interview in the program, which appears around the 25 minute mark.

Shakushain was an Ainu leader from the area of present-day Shin-Hidaka town, who led an uprising against the Japanese Matsumae Domain in 1669. Although the uprising was ultimately unsuccessful, Shakushain remains an important symbol of courage and resistance among Ainu people today. Today, Ma’uta Park sits on the site of Shakushain’s fort.