Dignified memorial services by the Ainu people
In the past, remains of deceased Ainu people and related burial items were excavated, collected, and stored at universities all over Japan. While efforts have been made to return these remains to the Ainu, those that cannot currently be returned are collected at Upopoy. The Memorial Site was established to provide a dignified memorial and to ensure that remains are handled appropriately until such time as arrangements for their return to the Ainu are established. Located on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the east side of Lake Poroto, the Memorial Site comprises an area for storing remains, a memorial service facility and a monument symbolizing the site’s mission.
Establishment of the Upopoy Memorial Site
The remains of Ainu people and the items buried with them have long been studied by anthropologists and other researchers.
Research into the origins of the people of the Japanese archipelago increased markedly during the middle of the Meiji Era. The remains of Ainu people were excavated and collected by researchers as part of this work, which continued into the Showa era.
As a result, Ainu remains were stored as research materials in several universities. In some instances, the wishes of the Ainu may not have been considered when these remains were excavated and collected.
In light of this history and actions that have been taken to repatriate the remains of indigenous peoples across the world, it was decided in June 2014 that the Japanese government would promote the return of the remains of Ainu people to the Ainu with the understanding and cooperation of relevant parties. It was also decided at the time that the remains that could not be returned immediately would be transferred to Upopoy, where dignified memorial services would be held by the Ainu and the remains would be managed properly until a system for their acceptance by the Ainu could be established.
In accordance with this decision, the Upopoy Memorial Site was established to fulfill this function in September 2019.
The transfer of remains from universities began in November of the same year, and the first memorial service performed by Ainu people was held in December.
Fostering an understanding of this history among the many visitors to Upopoy is fundamental to a harmonious society now and in the future.
Memorial Site Overview
April 1 – September 30: 9:00am to 5:00pm
October 1 – March 31: 9:00am to 4:00pm
Closed on Mondays, from December 29 to January 3 and from February 20 to February 29
*When Monday is a holiday, open on Monday and closed on the next business day
*Open on May 1, July 10, August 14, September 19 and February 5
- Cemetery (may only be viewed from outside)
- Memorial service facility
About 1,200m from Upopoy
66 car spaces