The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

A Re-examination of How Aynu (Ainu) People and Culture are Displayed in Museums

Joint Research Coordinator STEWART, Henry

Reserch Theme List


As a result of the survey of 21 domestic museums (in Japan) concerning displays related to the Ainu people carried out from June 2005 until November 2006, it was discovered that these displays focused on tradition. With one or two exceptions, there were no displays about the Ainu people at present. It is clear that because of the emphasis on tradition in displays about the Ainu, the Ainu people have been trapped in the past and are eternally considered as “uncivilized,” or else it remains very unclear whether the Ainu continue to exist today.

This research aims to gather together those who are responsible for the museum displays and members of the Ainu for a more in-depth discussion of the situation as to the object of the displays. Specifically, we will concentrate on the following three concerns: 1) seeking to highlight the present conditions of the Ainu people; 2) considering how these conditions should be presented to the public; and 3) refining communication network concepts to link museum staff concerned with displays about the Ainu and the object of the displays, that is, the Ainu themselves.