Hokkaido University has added the Ainu language to announcements and bus stop signs for campus circulation buses used by faculty and staff. The idea is that by having teachers and staff come into contact with the Ainu language on a daily basis, it will lead to the promotion of the language and promote coexistence with the Ainu people.
According to Hokkaido University, there are two campus circulation buses that are used by approximately 2 people a year, and they have traditionally made announcements in Japanese and English, but one of these buses has added announcements in Ainu. .
The Ainu language has many dialects depending on the region of residence. The language being played on the buses is primarily in the Ishikari dialect, and the audio was recorded by the Ainu Language Announcement Department, a civic group that works on activities in the Ainu language. The Ainu language notations at each stop are translated by a professor at Hokkaido University who specializes in Ainu language.
Hokkaido University has faculty members and students with Ainu roots. By providing opportunities to come into contact with Ainu culture on campus, this system was introduced as an environment in which these faculty members and students can come into contact with their own culture, and as a first step in promoting the Ainu language.
In Japan, there are about 1 Ainu people in Hokkaido, and about 3,000 people in Russia's Sakhalin and Kamchatka Peninsulas. However, in Japan, it is believed that a wide range of people live in the Kanto region, but the exact number is unknown.
Ainu is the language of the Ainu people, the indigenous people of Hokkaido. A 2017 study found that there were only five speakers, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization classified it as a language in serious danger of extinction.