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

Ethnological research in Hokkaido, Sakhalin and Kuril Islands from the Meiji Era to the end of World War II: A review of the Ainu, Uilta and Nivkh Collections in the National Museum of Ethnology

Joint Research Coordinator SAITO Reiko

Reserch Theme List


Hokkaido, Karafuto/Sakhalin, ethnological collections


In the Minpaku collections of ethnological materials from Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands collected up until the end of World War II, there are more than 1,000 Ainu artifacts, more than 280 Uilta artifacts, and more than 70 Nivkh artifacts. These retain their traditional characteristics and are not only important for research on the materials and techniques required to understand material culture but also, in many cases, irreplaceable treasures that can no longer be collected. Unfortunately, because of misunderstandings, mistakes and flaws in material management at the time they were collected, together with loss of information as responsibility for their management changed hands and further errors that have accrued through copying and data entry, there are numerous items for which data is either missing or mistaken. Since, however we do know in most cases who collected these materials, it is possible by retracing their steps to find ample opportunities to reassess the information we have and correct and add to it. By conducting this joint research in cooperation with experts on ethnic material culture and language, we will be able to attach correct information to these materials, while at the same time learning more about anthropologists and their relationships with the indigenous peoples they studied and materials they collected from Meiji to the end of World War II.