Delegation from newly established UPOPOY National Ainu Museum and Park invited to present Japan’s Indigenous Ainu Tourism Initiatives at the International Indigenous Tourism Conference 2024 in Ottawa, Canada

Delegation from newly established UPOPOY National Ainu Museum & Park invited to present Japan’s Indigenous Ainu Tourism Initiatives at the International Indigenous Tourism Conference 2024 in Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – February 26-28, 2024 –The International Indigenous Tourism Conference 2024 (IITC), the world’s largest conference on Indigenous tourism, is set to take place from February 26 to 28 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Representing the UPOPOY National Ainu Museum & Park, Ms. Miyuki itankituy Muraki, Executive Director, and Ms. Konomi ninum Arata, Cultural Specialist in Language.

On the morning of February 28th, Executive Director Ms. Muraki, alongside presenters from Mexico, will address approximately 1000 conference attendees during the plenary session, introducing the cultural and tourism initiatives of Japan’s Indigenous Ainu people. During the afternoon of the same day, Ms. Arata will speak on the preservation of the Ainu language in a specialized session. This marks their inaugural participation as panelists after being invited from Japan.

Established in 2020, UPOPOY National Ainu Museum & Park is a significant national project in Japan. The creation of this institution came together with the 2019 legal recognition of the Ainu people as the Indigenous People of Japan. Comprising the National Ainu Museum, the National Ainu Park, and Memorial Site, Upopoy acts as a foundation for the revival and continued development of the invaluable culture of the Ainu people. It represents the building of a forward-looking, vibrant society with a rich, diverse culture in which indigenous people are treated with respect and dignity. The name Upopoy is a newly coined term that means “singing together in a large group” in Ainu.

The invitation for the UPOPOY delegation from Japan was extended following the visit of Mr. Keith Henry, President and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, to UPOPOY during the International Symposium on Indigenous Tourism Challenges held at Hokkaido University in September last year.

Ms. Muraki and Ms. Arata will present in the following sessions:

“Where Nations Meet: Tourism Development for Nation Identity”

Wednesday, February 28, 2024, 9:00am – 10:00am at Shaw Centre

“Me, My Family, and My Language: The Role of Tourism Institutions in Cultural Transmission”

Wednesday, February 28, 2024, 2:45pm – 3:45pm at Shaw Centre

Invited participants from Japan

Miyuki itankituy Muraki (Ms.)

Executive Director, UPOPOY National Ainu Museum & Park
Senior Vice President, the Foundation for Ainu Culture

Miyuki Muraki

Ms. Muraki itankituy (pronounced:ee-Tan-ki-tuy) was Born in 1959 in Shiraoi Town as a proud Ainu woman. Since 1985, she has been working for the (former) Ainu Museum and later became the Director of the museum (2012~) and a board member (2013~). The former Ainu Museum, fondly known as Porotokotan in Ainu language, was a private museum established in 1984 and was operated by the local Ainu community in Shiraoi. Reflecting on her experiences, she expresses, “I was nurtured in this museum where the Ainu people themselves built a foundation for the transmission of Ainu culture.” In here she was involved in the revival of Ainu cultural practices, such as the performance of Ainu dances and songs, research on Ainu religious rituals, preservation of Ainu culinary traditions among many. She also undertook research and studies on Ainu materials in the museums, both nationally and internationally, collaborating with institutions like the Russian Museum of Ethnography and the National Ethnological Museum in Berlin.

In 2012, she joined government’s preparation Committee of the establishment of National Museum for indigenous Ainu. In 2018, she assumed the role of full-time board member of the newly established Foundation for Ainu Culture which merged with the former Ainu Museum Foundation. In this capacity, she has been involved in the preparations for the opening of the UPOPOY National Ainu Museum & Park, a national project for “symbolic space for ethnic harmony”. In July 2020, with the opening of Upopoy, she was appointed of Deputy Executive Director of UPOPOY Headquarters, and from June 2023, she became the first indigenous and female Executive Director.

Her curated exhibitions include “TEKEKARPE: Textile art and other Ainu handicrafts from German collections” (1999, Ainu Museum), “IKARKAR: The World of Ainu Embroidery Works” (2016, Tomakomai City Museum) among many. Major publications include: “Ainu Nature Series 4: Ainu and Plants <Medicine edition>” edited by the Ainu Museum (2004); and ‘Sonko de Sonko: Essay on Ainu Culture’ in “The Japan Railways Hokkaido Magazine” with Prof. Yuko Honda, a monthly article since 2012.

Konomi ninum Arata

Cultural Specialist (Language)UPOPOY National Ainu Museum and Park

Konomi Arata

Ninum (pronounced: Nee-num) was born in Asahikawa, Hokkaido 36 years ago. When she was a child, she followed her maternal grandmother, who has indigenous Ainu roots, and participated in the ceremonies and events held in the Asahikawa area. In 2005, she took part in an international youth exchange to visit Hawaii, where she met other people of her generation with Ainu roots and became interested in her own identity. Since then, she has learnt traditional dances, oral literature and the Ainu language. Now that she is married to an Ainu person and has three children, she often thinks about how the roles of parents and schools in cultural transmission.

She is committed to passing on and reviving Ainu culture and language, ensuring that she and other children can lead a life with pride and joy in their hearts, without feeling the need to blend into the majority or endure discrimination.

In 2012, she completed the three-year ‘Ainu Cultural Inheritor Training Program’. From 2012 to 2015, she oversaw transcription of the Ainu language at the Ainu Museum (Porotokotan). 2016-2018, she was an instructor for the ‘Practical Advanced Course for the Cultural Inheritor of Oral Literature’.

In the field of performing arts, in 2011 she was among the founding member of the Team nikaop that aims to revive performing arts of the Ainu. In 2015, she has also been a member of the Obihiro kamuytoupopo Preservation Association.

Contact Information

Public Relations Division
Upopoy: National Ainu Museum and Park Administration Headquarters
The Foundation for Ainu Culture