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Shiraoi

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  • Japanese: 白老 (Shiraoi)

Shiraoi is a town in Hokkaido known for its museums and other establishments dedicated to Ainu culture.

The area was inhabited by indigenous peoples since ancient times. At the end of the 19th century, records show five kotan (Ainu villages) along the coast in that area, which were home to a total of some 349 people in 82 homes. They supported themselves chiefly with fishing and other maritime activities, but also cultivated several kinds of millet, cowpeas, and other crops. Sendai han established a jinya there in 1856, and in 1880 a town office was established (in large part to oversee census and population registration).

The town became a famous tourist destination beginning in 1892, when railroads were first extended to Shiraoi, but the vast majority of residents continued to make their livings through agriculture or marine activities. In the 1950s, the Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company established a factory in Shiraoi, shifting the economy of the town.

An Ainu cultural museum known as Poroto Kotan, opened there in 1984, is run by members of the Ainu community, and allows them to engage in researching, performing, and teaching about Ainu history and Ainu culture themselves.

References

  • Gallery labels, National Museum of Japanese History.[1][2]
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