The Ainu Films of HIMEDA Tadayoshi

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September 2nd, 2022 @ 5:59 pm - September 4th, 2022 @ 11:59 pm EDT

Cost: Free
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The Japan Foundation, Toronto is proud to present three films from the late pioneering filmmaker, HIMEDA Tadayoshi. These documentaries have rarely been shown outside of Japan and are of immense ethnological importance.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Director Himeda created a series of films in close collaboration with the late Ainu trailblazer KAYANO Shigeru. Mister Kayano was the first Ainu to sit in the Japanese parliament and one of the last native speakers of the Ainu language. For those who watched our screening of Ainu: Indigenous People of Japan, you may remember one of the elders of the film, KAYANO Reiko, who is the wife of the late KAYANO Shigeru.

Special thanks to Mr. HIMEDA Ran (son of Director Himeda) for all of your support!

Don’t miss the special presentation with Dr. Marcos Centeno (Birbeck, University of London) as he shines a light on the historic, ethnological, and artistic significance of HIMEDA Tadayoshi’s documentaries. This presentation serves as a perfect introduction to Director Himeda’s films.

All three films will be available online North America-wide from:
Friday, September 2 – Sunday, September 4

Chise-a-Kar -We Build A House- チセアカラ -われら家つくる-

Directed by HIMEDA Tadayoshi • 1974 • Documentary  57 min. • Presented in Ainu with English subtitles
Online Film Screening (North America only) • Admission Free  RSVP Required (register below)

This film centers on the construction of a traditional style house, their houses being not only very distinctive but also figuring prominently in religious ritual. The houses were rectangular and pole-framed, thatched with Miscanthus or bamboo-leaf; the doorway was protected by a skin or woven hanging and various parts of the house, such as the hearth and a window on the eastern side, would serve ceremonial purposes.

I-Omante -The Bear Ritual- イヨマンテ -熊おくり-

Directed by HIMEDA Tadayoshi • 1977 • Documentary  103 min. • Presented in English, Japanese, and Ainu with English subtitles
Online Film Screening (North America only) • Admission Free  RSVP Required (register below)

This film focuses on I-OMANTE ritual that is to liberate the souls of the Gods from the furs and meat and send them back to the Land of the Gods. The Ainu believed that bears were Gods. The Gods come to the Land of the Ainu, which means “human beings”, with meat, furs and medicine (the gall bladders of the bears) as their gifts.

Content Warning: Animal death as part of the bear ritual.

Wedding Ceremony of the Ainus アイヌの結婚式

Directed by HIMEDA Tadayoshi • 1971 • Documentary  33 min. • Presented in Japanese and Ainu with English subtitles
Online Film Screening (North America only) • Admission Free  RSVP Required (register below)

The documentary is a record of a marriage ceremony that took place in April 1971 and was performed in accordance with Ainu traditions at the request of the young bride. There were two hurdles to overcome in the realization of the ceremony: first, a group of Ainu had to be convinced, who were against a revival of the tradition. Secondly, there were only a few members of the community who knew the details of the ceremony at all, since most of them had already been celebrating a wedding in their own style for over 80 years.

About HIMEDA Tadayoshi (1928-2013):

Born in 1928 in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, HIMEDA Tadayoshi graduated from the local business university in 1948. Six years later, Himeda went to Tokyo and worked there in the field of modern theatre. In addition to his work as a screenwriter for television, he studied with the ethnologist MIYAMOTO Tsuneichi. In 1976, Himeda founded the Center for Ethnological Visual Documentation (Minzoku Bunka Eizō Kenkyujo), which he has headed until 2012.

For more than 50 years, he has been documenting the lives and culture of the common people using visual media, and created more than 120 films.

Himeda and his Center are known worldwide through joint projects with the Collège de France in France, lectures and film series at Harvard University, and events at universities, museums and research institutions in Europe. He has received numerous important prizes in Japan and abroad for his work.

In Conjunction With:
Reviving Ainu Lost Traditions on Screen: HIMEDA Tadayoshi’s Documentary Films

Join Dr. Marcos Centeno (Birbeck, University of London) for a special presentation examining the historic and cultural significance of HIMEDA Tadayoshi’s documentary films about the Ainu people. Dr. Centeno will introduce us to the history of Ainu representation on screen, which goes back as far as the inception of cinema. Unlike previous documentaries featuring the Ainu, the films Director Himeda made in the 1970s alongside Ainu leader and trailblazer KAYANO Shigeru showcase a new ethnographic approach where the Ainu are not depicted as exotic nor primitive.

This presentation serves as a perfect introduction to our online screenings this weekend, The Ainu Films of HIMEDA Tadayoshi.

Online Talk Event  

Related Programming:
Inuit Print Art and its Early Japanese Influences

In the mid-20th century, a series of fortunate events led to the introduction of Japanese printmaking techniques to the Inuit community of Cape Dorset. In this talk with Dr. Norman Vorano (Queens University), we will hear the story of how these ancient traditions of Japan made their way to the remote Canadian arctic, how Inuit artists built upon these traditions, and the ways in which Inuit printmaking continues to thrive today.

Watch Here

Additional Ainu Films, Videos & Resources

As a follow-up to our film screenings in recognition of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (August 9), we have assembled a collection of films, videos, and additional resources about the Ainu people. These resources and content are available for free and we hope it encourages you to continue learning about the indigenous peoples of Japan.

Watch Here

JF OverDrive: Ebooks about indigenous peoples of Japan

Deepen your understanding about the Ainu people and their culture by checking out ebooks on indigenous peoples of Japan before or after the film screening! Apply for a new library card or renew your expired card here.

Read Here 



September 2nd, 2022 @ 5:59 pm
September 4th, 2022 @ 11:59 pm
Event Category:


The Japan Foundation, Toronto
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