Revitalization of Indigenous Culture and Community Museum: A Case Study of the Indigenous Ainu in Hokkaido, Japan
Asian Journal of Tourism Research
In recent years, a rise in indigenous movements has become pervasive. In this trend, museums come to be 'contact zones' where museums and their source communities debate how the communities should be represented and who holds the power to represent their culture. This shift has provided indigenous peoples with an opportunity to represent their cultures and histories from their own viewpoints. Attempts to establish their own museums have been popular in some indigenous communities. Such
... us curation' has encouraged the struggle for cultural revival of the indigenous peoples. However, a museum as a model culture tends to represent past cultural traditions, rather than contemporary diverse ways of life, and to provide stereotyped images of the culture to visitors. Therefore, the representation of contemporary indigenous cultures is a key issue faced by such museums. This paper discusses a case study of the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum, Hokkaido, Japan, which was established as a community-based museum in 1992. The museum not only displays local Ainu culture but also offers several learning programs for tourists, in cooperation with local artisans' cooperatives and other organizations. These creative experiences offer visitors an opportunity to understand the life and cultural heritage of the Ainu beyond that exhibited in the museum. In this paper, it is argued that this kind of community-based museum contributes to deconstructing the stereotypical image of the Ainu among the majority Japanese and to reviving the cultural heritage of the Ainu in the contemporary world, by clarifying the concepts of ecomuseum and community museum.