Akan-Yukar “Lost Kamuy”


Photo by Nagi Yoshida

Ancient Ceremonial Dance x Contemporary Dance x Digital Art

In Akan, in east Hokkaido, there is a kotan (village) that is home to the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido. This village, the Akan Ainu Kotan, has a permanent theater called the Lake Akan Ainu Theater at which traditional and ancient ceremonial dances are performed. Since March 2019, a brand-new production, Akan-Yukar “Lost Kamuy”, has been performed here. This production brings together prominent creators from various fields (digital art, sound design, and dance) at Akan Lake and combines ancient ceremonial dance, contemporary dance, 3-D digital imagery, and 7.1 surround sound, all of which is enhanced by using five state-of-the-art projectors.


The Ainu believe that kamuy (the word for god in the Ainu language) reside in animals and plants as well as water, fire, and the wind. They also believe that each of these living beings and elements are a kamuy (god). A notable example of this is the Hokkaido wolf, which is known by the Ainu as the protecting god (Horkew Kamuy). This special kamuy taught the Ainu how to hunt and sometimes helps the Ainu. From the Meiji era, however, the Hokkaido wolf started to dwindle in number and they were eventually wiped out. This lost god, Horkew Kamuy, is brought to life on stage in the Akan forest with digital imagery. The world of kamuy, who have been feared and revered for generations by the Ainu, is brought to life in Akan.


  • Nagi YoshidaPhotographer
    Nagi Yohida is an award-winning photographer who photographs ethnic minorities in Africa and other places across the globe. Her unique use of color and her way of life have drawn great acclaim and interest, and she herself has been featured many times on TV, in magazines articles, and on other media. She has also won a Kodansha Publishing Culture Award for her photography. Her long-awaited photographs of the Ainu, which she shot in the winter on frozen Akan Lake, are part of this project.

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  • Kuniyuki TakahashiSound designer, music producer, DJ
    Kuniyuki Takahashi is a sound designer, music producer, and DJ based in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Looking beyond his home country of Japan, his music has an inimitable global outlook and is highly acclaimed by music producers and DJs around the world. For this project, he has mixed the singing voices of the Ainu with the sounds of Akan’s nature into deep, rich sounds that reverberate around the theatre.

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  • UNODancer, live-dance director, illustrator
    UNO is a Japanese female dancer whose extraordinary soul, skill, and imagination always leaves her audience bewitched. She is active in a number of fields, including choreography for recording artists, fashion modeling, and illustration and has performed together with prominent recording artists such as Namie Amuro and EXILE in Japan and overseas.

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  • WOW inc.Video production
    WOW inc. is a creative studio that works across design, art, and technology to innovate experiences.
    With a focus on digital imagery, design, VFX, WOW inc. dedicates itself to producing exceptional 3-D digital footage for films and dramas, commercials, and events.

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  • Shusei TokoDirector of the Akan Ainu Craft Association
    Shusei Toko resides at Lake Akan Onsen and is the stage manager of the Lake Akan Ainu Theater <Ikor>. Through the mediums of contemporary dance and digital art, he conveys the emotions of ceremonial Ainu dances, which have been danced since ancient times.

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  • Daisuke SakamotoCreative Director (JTB Communication Design, Inc.)
    As a copywriter, planner, and creative director, Daisuke Sakamoto focuses on branding and publicity for recording artists. He is responsible for this project’s planning, writing, and creative direction.

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Akan Yukar “Lost Kamuy”

First performance: March 19, 2019 (Tuesday)

March to April
Every day at 9:15 pm (1 performance)
May to June
Weekdays at 9:15pm; weekends & national holidays at 3:00pm and 9:15pm (2 performances)
July to October
3pm and 9:15 each day (2 performances)
Duration of performance
About 40 minutes
Same-day admission fee
2,200 yen for adults; 600 yen for elementary school students
Akan Lake Ainu Theater 7-19, Akankoonsen 4-chome, Akancho, Kushiro City, Hokkaido