The College Women's Association of Japan is a non-profit organization of Japanese and non-Japanese women promoting education and cross-cultural exchange, providing scholarships and organizing an annual Print Show. One of the organization's activities is also to hold a monthly luncheon with speakers and guests on a given topic.
AINU PRIDE PRODUCTIONS had the honor of being invited to speak at the luncheon, and we were able to put together a program with renowned Ainu artist and activist Shizue Ukaji, dancer and performer Naoko Tateshita (formerly of AINU REBELS) and myself (head of AINU PRIDE PRODUCTIONS, W. Lonnie Ding-Everson).
The program included an introduction to the Ainu people, their history, culture, and current situation, including the story of the Ainu community in
. We were also able to present on several of the activities and projects undertaken by AINU PRIDE PRODUCTIONS. Tokyo
This was followed by a question and answer session with Shizue Ukaji and Naoko Tateshita, who provided two different perspectives of their experiences as Ainu women from Hokkaido currently living in Tokyo – Shizue Ukaji as an elder who has lived in Tokyo for several decades, and Naoko Tateshita as a younger member of the community that left Hokkaido just a few years ago.
Following the Q&A session, Naoko Tateshita treated the participants to a performance of several traditional songs and dances, and at the end everyone joined in for a round of poro rimse (big circle dance).
The event also featured a display of Shizue Ukaji’s embroidery work, which she uses in a unique fashion to illustrate traditional Ainu stories.
AINU PRIDE PRODUCTIONS sincerely appreciates the work of the organizers in putting the program together, and is grateful for the opportunity to share the stories and experiences of the Ainu people as well as the work of AINU PRIDE PRODUCTIONS.