Special Ainu culture lectures begin at Japanese language school in Higashikawa

Students at the Higashikawa Japanese Language School listen to a lecture about the Ainu

International students at the Higashikawa Japanese Language School in Asahikawa’s neighboring town of Higashikawa in northern Hokkaido began a series of five special lectures on January 13, learning about Ainu culture and the history of nature and railways in Hokkaido. The aim is to deepen understanding of the region and improve Japanese language ability. In the first lecture, 30 international students from China, Thailand and the like learned about the culture of the indigenous Ainu.

Hokkaido Shimbun Newspaper reporters will be the tutors in the special ‘Japanese cultural circumstances’ lectures. Former curator of the Ainu Museum and member of The Hokkaido Shimbun Press Editorial Committee, Kosaka Yosuke was the tutor of the first lecture.

Kosaka introduced the fact that Lake Akan’s ‘Marimo Festival’, which gives thanks to the nature in which marimo (rare balls of moss-like algae) grow, includes Ainu rituals. He explained that “the Marimo Festival is helping to change Ainu culture into a new form.”
Kosaka cited cep (fish), seta (dog) and the like, as examples of Ainu words, and interested students practiced pronunciation of the words they had learned.

The remaining four lectures are scheduled to be held by mid-February. Hokkaido Shimbun Newspaper reporters will explain about nature in Hokkaido, including the Taisetsu volcanic group and Shiretoko World Natural Heritage site, as well as the history of railways and newspapers in Hokkaido. The school will confirm the students’ wishes by means of a questionnaire, and plans to hold similar special lectures in the new term.
“I understand about the Ainu and glad they taught us about them. I look forward to the subsequent lectures,” said one Vietnamese student.


Higashikawa Japanese Language School