It’s a chilly February morning on the banks of Lake Poroto in Shiraoi, Hokkaido. A white blanket of ice and snow covers the water — solely footprints lead towards the middle of the lake, the place holes have been drilled into the frozen floor.

These are spots for freshwater smelt fishing, an historic custom which, like so many others in Hokkaido, has been handed down from the indigenous Ainu individuals who have for hundreds of years known as this island house.

Shiraoi’s title additionally comes from indigenous Ainu language, the place shirauoi means “a spot of many horse flies.” This small city of round 16,000 residents and certainly one of a number of energetic Ainu communities in Hokkaido was additionally chosen to host the Upopoy Nationwide Ainu Museum and Park, which opened its doorways on the shores of Lake Poroto in July 2020, changing into Japan’s solely nationwide museum north of Tokyo’s metropolitan space — and the one one devoted to Ainu tradition.

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