On a wooded lake shore in southwest Hokkaido, the government is building a modernist shrine that has divided the indigenous Ainu community whose vanishing culture it was designed to celebrate.

At a cost so far of ¥20 billion, the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony is on track to open in time for the 2020 Olympics, part of a drive by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to draw millions of foreign visitors to Japan and to Sapporo, where the Olympic marathon will be held.

Also known as Upopoy, or "singing together" in the Ainu language, the complex will include a museum, a replica of an Ainu village, many of which Japan destroyed in its 19th century colonization of Hokkaido, and a memorial housing the bones of hundreds of Ainu whose remains were sent to universities in the 20th century.