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  • Writer's picturePhillip Radcliffe

SU Holds 6th Annual URESPA Festival

The 6th URESPA Festival was held at Sapporo University Pre-Hall on October 31st, 2015. The Urespa Club was created by Professor Yuko Honda and others in 2010. The purpose of the club is to gather a number of young Ainu and Japanese students every year and teach them to shoulder the future of Ainu culture and also to make multicultural community in the school.

URESPA Club is for both Ainu and Japanese students who have interest in Ainu culture and want to study about it and hold practical activities. The club meets on Monday and Thursday nights and hosts or participate in events from time to time. The events that we host are events to show what we have been studying or transmit about Ainu culture.

For example, in the spring we host an event picking edible wild plants we explain the importance of edible wild plants in Ainu culture to the participants while we are picking. In winter we go to elementary schools near the university to teach the kids easy Ainu language and some traditional dances.

One of the biggest and most important events for the URESPA Club is the URESPA Festival that is held once a year. In this event the members of the club show what they have been studying in exhibits and perform traditional dances that they have learned.

Every year, there is lecture by special guest. In the past, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yoshiharu Sekino, among others have spoken. This year’s special guest was Akira Sakata, who is known as a saxophone player and a Water Flea researcher. About 200 people attended the event.

The other special guest was Hideo Akibe of the Akan Ainu crafts cooperative. Later there was a Panel talk with the two guests and Prof. Honda. There was also a play in Ainu language by the members of URESPA Club.

The play is about how a traditional dance is past on, when it is used and the meaning of the dance. For example, Kurimse (Bow Dance) was made after a story about a man who went hunting in the mountains. He found a bird that he wanted to shoot, but couldn’t because the bird was too beautiful to kill. The story was told and the Bow Dance describes that scene. Long ago there was no TV, so many Ainu people told folklore at night for entertainment.

In the play, the kids asked the adults to tell story. There were a total eight scenes, a scene for folklore and seven scenes for traditional dance. The script was written in Japanese and everyone had to translate their lines to the Ainu language.

Many people said that it was really good they were touched. Hopefully you will come next year. The URESPA Club holds many other events. If you would like to know more please check our website:


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