Master – An Ainu Story

Adam Isfendiyar

Master – An Ainu Story’ tells the the life story of an Ainu man – Kenji Matsuda, who grew up being discriminated against in his own land because of his Ainu heritage and gives a rare insight into the life of the indigenous people of northern Japan. There is very little documentation on the Ainu in English and few Japanese know much about them. It is thought that there may be up to 200 000 people of Ainu descent living in Japan today, but due to the history of discrimination against them only 10 percent of that number will admit to having Ainu roots. This exhibition looks at the personal story of a man who carried the legacy of shame from his grandparents generation and has tried to help revitalise this deep and rich culture that the Japanese government attempted to eliminate at the end of the 19th century.  

The exhibition ‘Master- An Ainu Story’ is currently showing at The Brunei Gallery, SOAS in London until 15th December. Open everyday except Sunday & Monday from 10:30am – 5pm, and until 8pm on Thursdays.

Kenji Matsuda stands on the edge of Lake Akan which sits at the base of the mountain known in the Ainu language as Pennishiri or ‘male mountain’ ©Adam Isfendiyar
Three ladies in traditional Ainu costume watching Ainu dancing at the marimo festival in Lake Akan. ©Adam Isfendiyar
A village elder returns a marimo to the Lake with prayers to protect it for another year. ©Adam Isfendiyar

Adam Isfendiyar
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