The God of Bears and Mountains Watching Over Vancouver

One of our favourite places to watch the sunset in the Vancouver area is Burnaby Mountain Park. Although the place offers spectacular views and a relaxed atmosphere, it is not our favourite place for photography. As you know, Kasia and I are always searching for less popular or even unknown places but each day on the Burnaby Mountain you can find a torrent of photographers.

Despite this, we are somehow being drawn back to this magnificent location. One of the highlights of the Burnaby Mountain is totem poles. Given the history of the region and the importance of native art in British Columbia, most people assume that the totem poles at the top of Burnaby Mountain are the artwork of British Columbia’s First Nations. Wrong!

This work of art is the exhibition created by Naburi Toko and his son Shusei Toko – a renowned modern sculptor of the Ainu. The Ainu are the indigenous people of the island of Hokkaido in Japan.

Like the Japanese people, the Ainu are animists and believed that spirits known as kamuy inhabit all things. One of the most important Gods is known as Kim-un Kamuy, or the god of bears and the mountains. All animals are thought to be the manifestations of gods on Earth; however, the bear is believed to be the head of gods and is known as kamuy, or “God.” Therefore, the owl, the bear and the orca represent the Ainu gods, while the poles below represent the people.

What a visual treat!











Notes: We arrived at the location an hour before sunset. Note how the light was changing. Don’t leave immediately after the sunset – sometimes the twilight provides enough light and a fantastic background for interesting images. All images were taken with the Fuji X100S, Fuji X-T1 & XF 14mm F2.8 or XF 56mm F1.2. Processed in LR6.


2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.


5 thoughts on “The God of Bears and Mountains Watching Over Vancouver

  1. I’ve discovered your blog some weeks ago, searching for information about fuji x series cameras (I’ve just switched from Canon to Fuji). In a few days I’ve seen most of the shots posted in the last years. You’re photos are wonderful and I must say that you live in a beautiful place!
    Well Done!
    Cesare from Italy

  2. Very interesting theme: the Ainu. I thought their culture disappeared, I’m glad to see it didn’t. And good for explaining animism. And of course the pictures are great, I’m particularly fond of the ‘shark’ shape with the moon on top. Very well done.

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