KATO Hirofumi


KATO Hirofumi Professor
Research Subject

I am organizing international joint research on cultural diversity from the perspective of archaeology. I am also working on the theory and practice in the field of indigenous archaeology in order to solve problems surrounding the archaeological heritage and cultural landscape of indigenous peoples in Hokkaido and around the world.

Research Fields
Indigenous archaeology, Cultural Heritage issues
Graduate School - Division / Department / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Department of Ainu and Indigenous Studies / Laboratory of Ainu and Indigenous Studies

Office/Lab: Centre for Ainu & Indigenous Studies
Tel: +81-11-708-4050
Email: h-kato(at)let.hokudai.ac.jp
Replace “(at)” with “@” when sending email.

Foreign exchange students who want to be research students (including Japanese residents) should apply for the designated period in accordance with the “Research Student Application Guidelines”. Even if you send an email directly to the staff, there is no reply.
Related Links


Laboratory of Ainu and Indigenous StudiesKATO Hirofumi Professor

Who is telling whose history, to whom, and for whom?
Listen to messages from the earth

There is more than one history narrative. Indigenous archaeology deals with indigenous peoples’ rights and cultural heritage ownership through protection of the historical cultural heritage of indigenous peoples around the world. We critically review theories emphasizing Western perspectives embedded in modern archaeology, attempting to use immaterial cultural elements such as oral traditions as historical narratives. While this research method has gained popularity in North America and Oceania, little is known about it in Japan. Hokkaido is a land long inhabited by the Ainu as an Indigenous people in Japan and home to a variety of historical cultural heritage passed down by the ancestors of the Ainu. As we listen to messages from the earth, we are engaged in creating a new framework for the research theme—Who is telling whose history, to whom, and for whom?

International field school at Rebun Island
Ainu-style prayer to ancestors at the remains

Region-based research;
Learn at an international field school to connect with the world

We are promoting a project to forge an international center for indigenous research in collaboration with seven universities including Oxford University. This joint international project is aimed at holding workshops and seminars at overseas universities and fostering researchers by dispatching graduate students and young researchers to overseas research institutes. We also host more than 20 overseas graduate students and young researchers who attend a field school and participate in joint research in Hokkaido. Indigenous research addressing the hurdles of the Ainu people’s historical cultural heritage in Hokkaido is linked to that all over the world, thereby allowing us to address global-scale issues. As Albert Einstein once said, “Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”


Indigenous archaeology is a little-known discipline in Japan. However, the historical-cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples can be found throughout the world, so it can be said that the research field is a topic you can discuss regardless of the locality. International collaboration is indispensable for Indigenous studies and the door of my laboratory connected to research institutes worldwide. We must consider how we should conserve, manage and apply the historical-cultural heritage of the Ainu people in Hokkaido as the Indigenous heritage while carrying out international comparative research.

The appeals of studies at university include creating a world yet unseen. Building on your studies will help you discover new research themes, and new research methods will be required according to the changing social circumstances surrounding your research. I am searching for academic colleagues from Japan and overseas who are willing to join us in creating a new research world.