I'm currently working on a documentary with a photographer named Laura Liverani (http://www.lauraliverani.com/), in a mysterious little place in Japan called Nibutani—a town with a population of only about 500 people. Yet, despite its size, Nibutani has historically been one of the most important places in Ainu history.
The Ainu people are an indigenous people of Japan who primarily live in Hokkaido. During the Meiji era, the Japanese government colonized the Ainu people, banning the language, cultural practices, and taking their land. Only in 1997 did the Japanese government recognize the right for Ainu people to enjoy their heritage, and in 2008, the Parliament passed a resolution to officially recognize Ainu as “indigenous people”. Despite these new laws enacted to protect Ainu culture, people of Ainu descent are still met with discrimination. There are now very few, if any, people who are purely Ainu, with only a handful of individuals diligently working to pass along the culture.
We have been here for about 3 weeks now, following various families who live in Nibutani, recording their personal histories and current activities. Some have inherited Ainu tradition, though not Ainu by blood. While others may be Ainu by blood, yet have only begun to involve his or herself in the culture. Either way, everyone we have met here is so unique. I feel like Agent Cooper, sucked into the mystique of Twin Peaks...
Another month and I will be back in New York City, beginning to edit this documentary. So please stay tuned! In the meantime, you can follow along with on Instagram with the hashtag #marimodocshoot or #lunchBEEhouse.
- Neo Sora