RIP: Kayano Shigeru

Markus Nornes amnornes
Mon May 8 16:22:51 EDT 2006

Kayano Shigeru passed away on the 6th. You could call him THE star of  
the ethnographic film in Japan, thanks to his many collaborations  
with Himeda Tadayoshi of the Minzokubunka Eizokenkyujo (Mineiken).

I had the pleasure of meeting Kayano when I co-programmed a sidebar  
on First Nations film and video for Yamagata in 1993. My partner was  
Daishima Haruhiko, the producer of the Okinawa portmanteau film  
Pineapple Tours. We went up to his home in Nibutani and he showed us  
his greatest hits on video and discussed the Yamagata event. We  
topped off the trip with a little meeting of north and south: a  
concert by Kina Shoukichi and an outdoor screening of Pineapple  
Tours, which was projected on the side of a barn.

Those interested in seeing Kayano and Himeda films can easily watch  
them at the Mineiken, however, you'd be surprised how many  
anthropology departments around the world have tapes and even 16mm  
prints squirreled away. I'd start with Ainu Wedding or Iyomante.


It is with deep regret that I write to inform you all of the sad  
passing of a great Ainu leader and cultural beacon and activist,  
Kayano Shigeru, at the age of 79 on the 6th May at 1:37pm (local  
time) in his hometown of Nibutani, Biratori.
     Kayano Shigeru (born June 15 1926) a native Ainu speaker, was  
the founder and director of the Kayano Shigeru Ainu Memorial Museum  
and the first Ainu to be elected as a member of the Japanese Diet  
delivering his inaugural speech in Ainu.     He devoted much of his  
life to the preservation and promotion of Ainu language and culture,  
writing numerous books and translating many dictionaries, in addition  
to collaborating on a large number of film and televison projects.  
"Our Home Was a Forest - an Ainu Memoir" (1994) was his most well- 
known title to be translated into English.
     The funeral will be held on 12th May at 10am in the Biratori-cho  
Community Hall. Hidaka Kannai, Biratori-cho, 88-1, Hokkaido/Ainu Moshir.
     His wife Reiko Kayano is in charge of the funeral.         From  
the FRPAC website (an organisation that he was instrumental in  
    Shigeru Kayano - Winner of the 7th (2003) Ainu Cultural Award  

  Starting in 1952, Shigeru Kayano devoted himself to the collection  
and recording of folktales and articles used daily by the Ainu,  
leading to the 1972 foundation of the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum.  
In 1983, he established Hokkaido's first language school using his  
own resources. He has since been striving to hand down and  
disseminate the Ainu language. In the meantime, he served as a member  
of Biratori Town Assembly for five terms and later contributed to the  
enactment of the "New Ainu Law" as a member of the House of Counselors.

    In 1996, he published the "Shigeru Kayano's Ainu Language  
Dictionary," a comprehensive survey of the Ainu language used in the  
Saru River basin.      In 2001, he obtained his Ph. D. in Philosophy  
with a thesis entitled "Research on Kamiokuri, or Sending off of the  
Gods among the Ainu (Mainly in the Saru River Basin)." He also served  
as an instructor at the Nibutani Ainu Language School and wrote  
numerous books concerning Ainu culture, contributing greatly to its  
    1965 - Wins the award for people who contributed to the promotion  
of cultural properties in Hokkaido
1975 - Wins the 23rd Kan Kikuchi Award
         Elected to the Biratori Town Assembly
1978 - Wins the Hokkaido Cultural Promotion Award
1989 - Wins the 23rd Eiji Yoshikawa Award
1992 - Assumes the post of the Director, Shigeru Kayano Nibutani Ainu  
1994 - Elected to the House of Counselors
1997 - Wins the award of folk culture commemorating Yuzo Yamamoto
2000 - Wins the award for persons who have rendered distinguished  
services in Hokkaido

* He has engaged in numerous research activities and cooperated in  

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