Jackie & Partners has been given the unique privilege to collaborate with Staff and Black Falcon Studio to promote the culture and traditions of the indigenous people of Eastern Hokkaido. Looking towards the 2020 Olympics set to take place in Tokyo, efforts are being made to cultivate international interest for parts of Japan that remain unknown. The untouched natural landscape of Akan in Eastern Hokkaido and the native peoples that have inhabited the area for generations has been selected as a part of this endeavor. The three entities working on this project will create new websites, texts, and other promotional materials to increase awareness and interest in this region of Eastern Hokkaido that remains relatively unknown.
For the first part of the project, Jackie & Partners did extensive research on the history, culture, and traditions of the Ainu populations that reside around Akan Lake and created detailed texts in English about the them. Below is an excerpt of the introductory text about the Ainu people. The project is set to continue for 3 years and each stage will aim to expand awareness about Akan and the Ainu.
Native to the harsh wintry climate of northern Japan, the native people call themselves by a name that describes who they are. “Ainu means human, Ainu means us.” They survived off of an unforgiving land by skillfully hunting wild game in the dense forests, fishing in rushing streams, and gathering from the land whatever it had to offer. In such a setting they built a foundation for a culture with an impressive depth of tradition; epic oral narratives memorializing history, legends and life lessons; imaginative music, songs, and dance; and a profound belief in a spirit world that permeates every corner of their existence.
By all international standards, the Ainu are designated as an indigenous people that possess their own language, history, culture and religious system rooted in a given territory that stretches from the southern part of the Kamchatka peninsula in present-day Russia, the Kuril and Sakhalin islands, Hokkaido and even parts of northern Honshu. However, their culture has endured immense pressure from outside forces including efforts by the Japanese government to assimilate the Ainu into mainstream Japanese culture and society. As a result, parts of Ainu culture has been lost but today there is a remarkable revival of Ainu culture where the Ainu are once again embracing their unique identity and are bringing a new vitality to time-honored traditions. Most importantly, their cultural and spiritual identity is rooted in their respect for nature and the understanding that their survival is dependent on coexisting with the natural world. These lessons from their ancestors are as relevant to today as they were in the past and this is the spirit that the modern Ainu carry with them, the spirit of a northern people.