August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011: Workshop with Haruzo Urakawa at Meiji University

Sorry for the late notice, but there is a workshop TODAY (this afternoon! in a few hours!), August 26 from 14:20 to 15:20 featuring Haruzo Urakawa as part of the ASLE-Japan (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment in Japan) 2011 National Conference. The conference itself is held from August 26 through 28 with various programs, and attendance is free.


What the Assimilation Policy Could Not Take Away
-The Nature of Urawaka and the Ainu Spirit Demonstrated in My Parents’ Lives-
(The Food Culture of the Mountains, River, Ocean; Craftwork; Kamuynomi, Icarpa, and Yayasama)

Date/Time: August 26 (Fri) 14:20-15:20
Venue: Meiji University Ikuta Campus, Central School Bldg. 6F Media Hall
1-1-1 Higashi-Mita, Tama-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa 214-8571
Instructor: Haruzo Urakawa
Facilitator: Yoshiko Kayano
Photos provided by: Isamu Sekido

Through the severe assimilation policies of the Meiji government, the Ainu people could no longer live their traditional lifestyle and it is thought that Ainu language and culture ceased to be passed down from parents to their to children. However, even if they were not passed down consciously as “Ainu language” or “Ainu culture,” the language, culture, and lifestyles developed over so many years was not completely lost. Fearing discrimination, parents no longer taught their children Ainu language and culture, and on the surface it appeared that the Ainu all assimilated into Japanese society. However, inside the home and in everyday life, Ainu language and customs, songs and stories, values and way of thinking were passed down as small “seeds” of memories into the hearts of the next generation.

This workshop focuses on these “seeds,” spread in the midst of the assimilation policies, and their whereabouts by listening to the story of Haruzo Urakawa, who is from Urakawa, Hokkaido and currently resides in Kimitsu, Chiba.

When Mr. Urakawa (born 1938) was a child, rather than go to school he would often babysit, help in the fields, and pass the time doing various kinds of work. From his father who worked in the mountains, he learned the ways of hunting and living in the mountains, and from going to pick wild plants and seaweed with his mother, he gained the knowledge and spirit of “food.” All of the things he learned by observing the way his parents lived their daily lives, continues to serve at the heart of the way Mr. Urakawa lives his own life. Kamuymintar (playground of the spirits), a facility he built near Lake Kameyama in Kimitsu, Chiba, was born out of the desire to provide a place where children could interact with nature and Ainu, Japanese, and people of other nations could come and relax. We hope that Mr. Urakawa would share with us at this workshop the “Yaysama” he sang at the 2009 summer festival held at Kamuymintar (“Yayasama” is Ainu for an impromptu song that reflects what the singer feels at that moment. It is said that Mr. Urakawa’s mother, who could speak the Ainu language, often sang this).


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