Ainu Messages on Flags in New Chitose to Promote Ainu Culture during Snow Festival

Ainu Messages on Flags in New Chitose to Promote Ainu Culture during Snow Festival

Flags with Ainu Messages.

Enlarge this image Enlarge this map

Flags bearing a greeting and expression of thanks in the Ainu language have been hung up in the passenger terminal at New Chitose Airport in Chitose, Hokkaido Prefecture since January 19. The Ainu are an indigenous people hailing from Japan and eastern Russia.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's (MLIT) Hokkaido Bureau, which is taking efforts to spread and raise awareness about Ainu traditions and other aspects of their society and culture, is the primary backer of the Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture (FRPAC) in Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture. The bureau printed the large Ainu flags to display in a hallway leading to the airport's international gates. One flag says "Irankarapte" ("Hello") and another says "Iyairaykere" (Thank you). There are six types of flags with combinations of Ainu transcribed into the Japanese katakana syllabary and the English alphabet, as well as translated into English, Korean and Chinese, to promote the Ainu culture to the airport's diverse range of visitors. All the flags incorporate a design featuring a "chise," a traditional Ainu dwelling.

The flag project is a trial run prior to the Irankarapte campaign that affiliated institutions will put on jointly starting in the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2013. The plan is to widely foster awareness of the Ainu and their culture in Japan and abroad by spreading their greeting, "Irankarapte."

The flags will stay up until February 28, until after the Sapporo Snow Festival scheduled for February 5-11.