Producer/Director/Camera/Editor: Naomi Mizoguchi
Emmy winner, Naomi Mizoguchi, has been working in the film and television industries for over 30 years. After working at a film production company in Japan, Naomi decided to start freelancing and has since created various films, including documentaries, promotional videos, and cultural films.
She moved to New York City in 2004 to research community media and wound up working at the Downtown Community Television Center, one of the largest and oldest community media organizations in the world.
In 2008, Ms. Mizoguchi co-established a non-profit organization called Cineminga, which provided training and equipment for indigenous people in Colombia, Ecuador, and Nepal. The resulting works were selected for screenings at various film festivals in Canada, Colombia, Nepal, Japan, and the United States.
In 2014, Ms. Mizoguchi established GARA FILMS, and the first feature GARA produced was Ainu: Indigenous People of Japan. She continues to create films focusing on intimate portraits of individuals as well as wide-ranging stories that impact people all over the world. Over the course of her career, Ms. Mizoguchi has directed over 100 film and TV projects and edited more than 400 projects.
Collaboration：Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum
The Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum opened in 1992 with the mission of accurately passing down Ainu culture and its history to future generations.
The Museum houses more than 1,000 National Important Tangible Folk Cultural Properties as well as other various traditional crafts. It also has a large collection of video materials, including yukar, or heroic epic poems. The Nibutani neighborhood that is home to the Museum is also host to the Shigeru Kayano Ainu Culture Museum and the Historical Museum of the Saru River. It is renowned as a rare place where there is an abundance of Ainu cultural study materials.
Ainu Translator/Supervisor : Kenji SEKINE
Born in Hyogo Prefecture, Sekine has lived in Nibutani neighborhood of Biratori Town since 1998.
After joining a local Ainu language class with his daughter around 2005, Sekine continued his studies in earnest, learning from researchers and elderly town residents. Today, Sekine leads the children’s Ainu language classes offered by Biratori, and also travels around Hokkaido teaching Ainu at schools and other institutions.
Sekine has also incorporated the indigenous New Zealander, or Maori, method of teaching language, called Te Ataarangi, into Ainu language education. He has held Ainu language study camps in Nibutani to revitalize the Ainu language.
His services as an expert in the Ainu language are in demand for translation and oversight in the film, TV, manga, and publishing industries, keeping him occupied for the majority of every year. Sekine also works as an Assistant Curator of the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum. He is fluent in English and often interacts with non-Japanese visitors to the Museum. He has been hosting an Ainu language class on STV radio with his daughter, Maya since April 2018.
Ainu Culture Supervisor: Toshinori YAMAGISHI
A native of Biratori, Yamagishi grew up in an Ainu neighborhood called Penakori. He started working at Biratori Town Hall after high school, and of his 40 years working there, Yamagishi has spent 11 of them involved in Ainu policy and also served as the head of the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum.
In the wake of passing of the Act on the Promotion of Ainu Culture in 1997, he implemented more events to preserve and promote Ainu culture. These include an International Indigenous People’s Forum in Nibutani, iwor project (*1), and measures to Preserve Ainu Culture project over the course of Biratori Dam construction.
In order to revitalize my community, I hope to make myself useful in efforts to pass on the knowledge I’ve acquired about the Ainu culture to our young generations.
*iwor project, promotion of measures to preserve Ainu culture through the building of the Biratori Dam. Literally, it means hunting grounds or deep in the mountains.
Ainu music: Biratori Ainu Culture Association
Established in 1983, the group not only records Ainu spiritual and material culture, it also creates ways to preserve and relay Ainu culture by incorporating it into their daily lives.
Traditional Ainu Dance is on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Biratori Ainu Culture Association is one of 18 organizations in Hokkaido that are charged with preserving this asset.
The children’s section of the Nibutani Ainu Language School has learned the dances from live teachers, and has also picked up choreography by watching old video recordings. The children now have opportunities to perform these dances at the town’s Sisirmuka Ainu Cultural Festival as well as events around Japan.
Mukkuri (mouth harp): Maki SEKINE, artisan
Sekine grew up surrounded by traditional culture and crafts practiced by his grandparents’ generation. Fascinated by nature, she is now an accomplished artisan, producing wood carvings, attus fiber weavings, and embroidery using traditional Ainu designs.
She creates various works with the hope of sharing the charms of Ainu culture with a wide audience. She usually creates her work in front of her customers, allowing her to create unique pieces that reflect and cater to their desires.
Sekine is passionate about making items for daily use by employing traditional designs and methods and arranging them in new ways. She has also poured energy into publicizing the Nibutani culture, including artisanship, worldwide so that younger generations will have the chance to be exposed to it.
Sekine states, “The foundation of Ainu culture is familial love. I hope that many people will feel joy and happiness when they see my work that reflects this love.”
Film music: YASUNOBU MATSUO 【02MA RECORDS】
Matsuo is known as a pioneer of healing music – a new genre composed by his original melodies and harmonies. He often holds live performances in large open spaces of nature worldwide, such as “power spots”; spiritual places that enhance life energy, that purifies and relaxes both mind and body.
Since ancient times, music has had the power of healing, physically and mentally. For instance, specialists, such as therapists and chiropractors, have used music to calm people, to improve the well-being of patients, as well as an effective tool to insomnia.
With over 35 years of experience as a professional musician, Matsuo continues to express the healing power of man’s harmonious relationship with nature through the power of music.
Cooperation for filming
Biratori Ainu Association | Biratori Ainu Culture Preservation Society | Cipsanke Committee | Sisirmuka Ainu Cultural Festival Committee | Kayano Shigeru Nibutani Ainu Cultural Museum | Historical Museum of the Saru River | Biratori Ainu Culture Information Center and many more!