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Museum dedicated to Japan's indigenous Ainu people opens for private viewings

An exhibition room located inside the National Ainu Museum and Park in the town of Shiraoi, Hokkaido, which was revealed to the public is shown in this photo taken on June 9, 2020. A booth where visitors can view an educational video is shown in the middle. (Mainichi/Taichi Kaizuka)
Items are on display in an exhibition room inside the National Ainu Museum and Park that was revealed to the public on June 9, 2020. (Mainichi/Taichi Kaizuka)

SHIRAOI, Hokkaido -- The National Ainu Museum and Park in this town in Japan's northernmost prefecture, which aims to revive the culture of the country's indigenous Ainu people, opened its doors for private viewings for local residents on June 9 prior to its official opening.

Some 140 people including the town mayor and assembly members were invited to look around the facility, which is also known by its nickname "Upopoy," an Ainu word meaning "singing in a large group." The cultural space was revealed to the public for the first time, while the official opening date, which was pushed back from the end of April due to the coronavirus outbreak, is still undecided.

A traditional Ainu dance is performed in front of local authorities and residents in the National Ainu Museum and Park in the town of Shiraoi, Hokkaido, which held a private viewing on June 9, 2020. (Mainichi/Taichi Kaizuka)

The town assembly members and others visited the National Ainu Museum, Hokkaido's first ever national museum, as well as a park where visitors can experience cultural programs. They were enthralled by traditional crafts and dances taking place on an outdoor stage. Up to about 2,600 residents of the town of Shiraoi who had applied for the private viewing by June 9 will be able to visit the facility between June 11 and 14.

Mayor Yasuhiko Toda commented, "I hope that the facility will be able to open soon after establishing a system for preventing infections. I would like many residents to visit it and for them to show great hospitality to outside visitors as if they're ambassadors themselves."

(Japanese original by Yui Takahashi, Hokkaido News Department and Kimitaka Hirayama, Tomakomai Bureau)

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