Elementary school students in Chitose on the Hokkaido northern main island got some hands-on experience in traditional salmon fishing of Japan's indigenous Ainu people in class in mid-October.

The third-graders at the city's public Suehiro Elementary School learned how to use a spear called "marek" to fish salmon from the head of an Ainu culture preservation group, with several giving it an actual try, and took part in cutting them up.

A student pulls up a salmon with a "marek" spear.

The school says it puts an emphasis on the study of Ainu culture, and arranges the kind of class every year to teach third-graders the importance of life.

This year's event took place over three days so each class could participate on a different day as part of anti-coronavirus measures.

In one of them, 26 students who had studied the culture beforehand learned from Katsuyuki Ishibe, head of the Chitose Society of Traditional Ainu Culture Preservation, how to use the marek and the meaning of traditional rituals.

In the class, Ryunosuke Niki and two others used the marek with help from Ishibe, and each speared and caught a salmon released for the event in a stream near the Chitose Aquarium.

"It was hard to hit. I felt the weight of the salmon when I pulled it up and it felt like it is alive," Niki said.

The Hokkaido Shimbun Press

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