I met Eiko Soga almost by chance, in one of the halls of Tenjiyama Art Studio, where I live in Sapporo. In our first conversation, Eiko told me briefly about her research on Ainu culture within the community of Nibutani. The Ainu culture is originally from Hokkaido, a territory that was conquered by Japan less than two centuries ago. This culture has adapted to the Japanese modernization, trying to survive within it. When Eiko told me about her intention to seek connections between tradition and technology for a future perspective in our lifestyles, I decided to ask her for an interview. As she wrote in the invitation text for her presentation at Tenjiyama Art Studio last sunday "From August to October in 2015 I did research and study about the Ainu culture and history, in the areas of Hakodate, Sapporo, Shiraoi and Nibutani. On this trip, I found out that it is possible to study in a lot of fields through salmons; background history, natural environment, relationship between neighbor country clubs, influences from modern capitalisms and the like".
Throughout my research in Sapporo and in relation to the manga and anime culture, one of the possibilities that Japanese science fiction explores is precisely this “return” to nature and traditional ways of living after the umpteenth disaster of human civilization. Saving many distances, Eiko's artistic practice around the Ainu culture, opens this possibility again, but from a real framework and not just fictional. In Tenjiyama she presented her process on clothing making, combining the ancient Ainu tradition of using salmon skin and modern textile production in Japan. With her help I was able to learn a lot about the Ainu culture and the contradictions between modern and traditional life in Hokkaido, as well as holding daily conversations about the differences between Japan and the West.