community-forum community-penpal community-userReports destinations-admission destinations-beenThere-solid destinations-bookmark-solid destinations-city_outline destinations-city_solid destinations-closedDays destinations-date destinations-getThere destinations-hotels destinations-hoursFees destinations-itineraries-3 destinations-nearbySpots destinations-pin-simple-outline destinations-pin-simple destinations-sortBy-dots destinations-tours destinations-town interests-agriculture interests-amusementParks interests-beaches interests-castles interests-city_solid interests-contemporaryArt interests-events interests-festivals interests-flowers interests-foodDrink interests-gardens interests-hiking interests-historicSites interests-industry interests-koyo-single interests-koyo interests-mangaAnime interests-museums interests-nature interests-onsen interests-parks interests-pottery interests-sakura-single interests-sakura interests-scenicRides interests-shopping interests-shrines interests-skiing interests-snow interests-sumo interests-temples interests-traditionalArts interests-traditionalTheater interests-viewpoints interests-volcanoes interests-wildlife interests-winterIlluminations news-section planning-tickets-2 planning-transportation-access planning-transportation-bicycle planning-transportation-boat planning-transportation-bus planning-transportation-car planning-transportation-plane planning-transportation-shinkansen planning-transportation-tickets planning-transportation-train planning-transportation-walk shapes-chevron-down shapes-circle shapes-star social-fb social-gplus social-instagram social-twitter social-youtube ui-alert-construction ui-alert-warning ui-calendar ui-confirmed-outline ui-confirmed-solid ui-date ui-globe ui-lightbulb ui-no_entry ui-ok ui-pencil ui-reverse ui-search ui-time ui-video-play ui-x user-avatar

The Shiraoi Ainu Museum (ACk, Ainu Minzoku Hakubutsukan) is one of the country's best museums about the Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan. The open air museum, which is also commonly known as Porotokotan (meaning large lakeside village in the Ainu language), is a replica village consisting of five thatched houses along the shore of Lake Poroto.

Each of the houses at Porotokotan demonstrates different aspects of Ainu culture and lifestyle. One of the larger houses holds a free, hourly performance (starting 15 minutes after the hour) with traditional Ainu folk dances, songs and mouth harp demonstrations. One of these folk dances, which is performed to send off the spirits of dead bears, was designated a UNESCO intangible cultural property in 2009.

Ainu folk dance performances

The rest of the houses are either restored residences, displaying what a typical household would look like, or serve as workshops where handicraft, music and other demonstrations are held. For a small fee visitors can try their hand at several different activities including woodcarving, embroidery, dance, Ainu cuisine, and making and playing traditional Ainu instruments.

Porotokotan also has a conventional museum building with an excellent, bilingual exhibition on Ainu history and lifestyle, as well as a small botanical garden with about 60 different species of plants that the Ainu used for food and medicine. There are also several pens where visitors can see live Hokkaido brown bears and snow white Ainu hunting dogs. Outside the gates of the museum are a few small shops that sell traditional Ainu crafts.

Dried salmon hang from the sides of the thatched houses

Access

The museum is located in Shiraoi, a neighbouring town of Noboribetsu. It is about 100 km south of Sapporo on the main railway line from Sapporo to Hakodate. The museum is a 10-15 minute walk east from Shiraoi Station.

From Noboribetsu

Shiraoi is five stations east of Noboribetsu by local train. The one way journey takes about 25 minutes and costs 360 yen. Note that trains run only once every one to two hours.

From Sapporo

Only a few limited express trains from Sapporo stop at Shiraoi. If yours does not, you need to transfer to a local train at either Tomakomai or Noboribetsu. The one way journey from Sapporo takes around 60-80 minutes and costs about 3000 yen one way by limited express train or about two hours and 1840 yen if done entirely by local trains.

Hours & Fees

Hours

8:45 to 17:00

Closed

December 29 to January 5

Admission

800 yen

English

Good
Page last updated: June 5, 2017