Ainu music concert in Ueno

Ainu music concert in Ueno

[Nov. 2023] After walking around Kameido in Tokyo, we moved to Ueno.

the bus towards Ueno parked in front of Kinshicho station
It’s been a while since we took a bus in Tokyo

We were going to listen to an Ainu music concert at Ueno Bunka Kaikan.

At my friend’s suggestion, we took a bus from Kinshicho.

It’s been a while since we took a bus in Tokyo.

Buses are fun because you can get close to people’s daily lives, and you can clearly see retail stores on the road.

By the time we arrived at Ueno, it was already pitch dark.

However, the town was busy and full of lights.

At the Bunka Kaikan, the ballet performance had just finished, and there were a lot of people.

the booklet for the Ainu music concert held in Ueno, Tokyo
the members of the band

Most were women.

It was in the small hall where we listened to Oki Dub Ainu Band.

My friend had come across the music of this band before, liked it, and wanted to go to a concert.

It was Jazz-like music featuring the Sakhalin instrument called tonkori.

It is said that some of the Sakhalin people who came to Hokkaido after the war brought this instrument with them, and the tradition was passed on.

After performing traditional music such as a game of blindfolded people fishing for hats with canes and a song depicting two men arguing, six people, led by a man named Oki, performed their own songs and some songs in rounds.

inside Ueno Bunka Kaikan where the Ainu music concert was held
many people inside the Ueno Bunka Kaikan

My husband, who loves jazz, seemed to really like it.

As I listened, I remembered the Ainu people we met in Shiraoi, Hokkaido several years ago.

The audience base was diverse.

There was one obvious regular audience who was unusually enthusiastic, and there seemed to be many people who came alone.

Since it was sung in the Ainu language, I don’t know the details of the song, but according to the explanation, there were songs whose meaning was  something like “Thieves came to the Ainu land and stole the mountains and rivers.”

I thought that ethnic minorities are always conscious of being in a victim position.

sausages we had after Ainu music concert in Ueno, Tokyo
nostalgic small sausages we had in the whisky pub inside Ueno Station

The performance lasted about 2 hours, and it was very fulfilling.

After the performance, we found a whisky pub inside Ueno Station premises and had some drinks and food here.

They also had cheap and delicious tapas-like dishes, so we talked about coming back again.