Ainu sea-going boat ‘itaomacip’ recreated, with launching ceremony in Otaru

An Ainu cultural and academic research group in the town of Bihoro in the Okhotsk region, which is involved in the preservation of Ainu culture, held a ‘cipusanke’ (boat launching ceremony) for a ‘itaomacip’ (timber boat) used by the Ainu for open sea voyages, at Ranshima Beach in the city of Otaru in central Hokkaido on September 19.

An ‘itaomacip’ is a sea-going vessel that was once used by the Ainu for trading purposes. The production of the boat was planned by the group in order to record the process up to the launch, and pass it on to future generations. Four Ainu traditional craftsmen, including Narita Tokuhei, were recruited, and building took place from October of last year to March of this year. It is 12.3 meters long, 1.7 meters wide, and is made from Sakhalin spruce that is approximately 200 years old.

Ten people from the group participated in the launching ceremony. The participants boarded the boat after waving a ‘takusa’ – which is a bundle of pine and bamboo leaves used in a purification ritual – over it. The waves were so high that the boat could not go out to sea, but Mr. Narita said, “We’re glad that the role of the sea-going boat has been conveyed.”

The group is now considering displaying the boat in Sapporo before donating it to a facility in Hokkaido.

Participants board the ‘itaomacip’ during the launching ceremony


Ranshima Beach