Akan-Yukar “Lost Kamuy”


Photos by Nagi Yoshida

Ancient Ceremonial Dance x Contemporary Dance x Digital Art

Near Lake 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.
Akan Yukar “Lost Kamuy” has been performed at this theater since March 2019,
and this production started life afresh in April 2020.
Mari Natsuki (the renown Japanese singer, actress, and theater director) has helped craft this new production and narrated it. With new music and contemporary dances as well as refined ancient ceremonial dances,Akan Yukar “Lost Kamuy” will memorably convey to you the messages of the Ainu.


The Ainu believe that two worlds exist: the kamuy (gods) world and the Ainu world.
The Ainu see souls residing in all things—in animals, in plants, and in natural phenomenon. And they live
in mutual respect with these souls (kamuy), considering them family. The Ezo (the old word for “Hokkaido”)
wolf is an extraordinary kamuy. This wolf, a superb hunter that was revered by the Ainu,
is called “Horkew Kamuy” (hunting god). The Ezo wolf met a sorry end, though: Heavy snow in 1879
caused the number of Ezo deer (a major source of sustenance for Ezo wolves) to sharply decrease.
Without Ezo deer to hunt, livestock belonging to settlers from Honshu
(the main island of Japan) were attacked by the Ezo wolves. The Ezo wolves were then seen
as a hindrance and poison-laced venison was scattered around for them
to eat and kill them. From around 1882 for six to seven years, hunters spurred on by a
high-cash-reward scheme killed between 2,000 and 3,000 Ezo wolves. That hunting drove them
to extinction. It’s said that the kamuy use dreams to express their anger and tell us of our errors.
What do those lost kamuy think about and what will they talk about?
Every single thing has a role, including these lost kamuy.


Akan Yukar “Lost Kamuy”

  • Same-day admission fee
    2,200 yen for adults; 700 yen for elementary school students
  • Performance time
    About 30 minutes