Ms Shimokura is a professional creator of Ainu arts and crafts, as well as an Ainu singer.
From a young age, she became familiar with the song and dance of the Ainu people, as well as traditional musical instruments such as the “mukkuri” (Ainu traditional harp). She learned traditional arts and crafts from elders including her mother and grandmother. Beginning In 1997, she became active as a singer, and since 2006, she has performed together with her younger sister Goukon Fukiko, under the name of ‘Kapiw & Apappo’, sharing the joy of Ainu song with the world.
Since 2001, she has managed the art jewelry brand “Ague” in Tokyo, together with Shimokura Hiroyuki, a metal carver. She is in charge of designing Ainu patterns. She opened ‘cafe & gallery KARIP’ in Akanko Onsen, and runs it together with her husband. Since 2017, she has continued to create products in collaboration with “fennica”, a label of Beams Co., Ltd. which develops items related to daily necessities. In October 2019, she held a sales event in Shinjuku, Tokyo, launching sales of her products under the “Ainu Crafts” collection. She continues to sell these products today.
The most fundamental step of creating Ainu arts and crafts is the production of thread. As the thread is spun, the thickness of the thread is carefully adjusted depending on what sort of item will be made. The thread is made from the inner bark of trees such as Artemisia cina or Manchurian elm. The craft-making process begins with a journey to collect these materials. It may seem rather surprising that Ms Shimokura enjoys going to gather materials most of all. While enjoying the smell of grass and the scenery of the outdoors, each chance encounter adds to the excitement and anticipation of what sort of craft will be created. Journeying into the hills, forests, and plains uses all five senses to their fullest, and is an important opportunity to hone her natural sensitivity.
Ms Shimokura’s crafts are all intended to be used as part of day-to-day life. One of the best examples is a bag made from bulrush, a type of aquatic plant. The bag is as artistically beautiful as it is functional -- the color of each square is individually arranged to form an Ainu pattern. Inspired by Ainu tradition and created with an artist’s liberty, these folk crafts bring joy to our daily lives.
On the other hand, Ms Shimokura also creates ritual utensils, which are used in traditional Ainu ceremonies. For these projects, she carefully considers materials and patterns throughout the entire process. She must focus both upon the finished item itself, while being certain to faithfully pass on the meaning within. Her works include crafts made to enjoy day and day again, as well as items to be used in authentic traditional situations. Both have their own joy and beauty. By differentiating between the two purposes, Ms Shimokura wishes to both honor tradition and contribute to the broadening of Ainu culture.
Since a young age, she became familiar with Ainu culture. Together with her sister, she shares the joy of Ainu song under the name of ‘Kapiw & Apappo’, while also creating arts and crafts at ‘cafe & gallery KARIP’.
Atelier ‘cafe & gallery KARIP’
3-8-15 Akanko Onsen, Akan-cho, Kushiro-shi, Hokkaido
Collaborative Products with Beams Co., Ltd.More