Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hiroshima Kagura

A couple of months ago we were driving along a backroad in SE Hiroshima on our way to Shikoku when we saw a small shrine at the side of the road with all the banners flying and the parking area full of cars, matsuri!!

We pulled in and were delighted to find kagura being performed.


The kagura in this area is related to Iwami kagura, but one noticeable difference is that the "heroes" don't wear masks but rather use makeup.


It was a very small shrine, but it had a kagura-den, which was in fact the largest building at the shrine. The audience was small, and mostly elderly people. The kagura group was from somewhere else in the region.


The steps down from the shrine to the kagura den were lined with shimenawa, creating a sacred space for the kami to descend to the performance. I asked the locals who were manning the stalls what the name of the kami was, but they didn't know so they suggested I ask the priest. He had been enjoying the O-miki (offering sake shared by the congregation and kami) and he admitted he had forgotten!


As is usual in the back country of Japan, the villagers were very friendly and we were treated as honored guests. They gave us a bunch of yakitori and a pack of the areas speciality, candied peanuts.

Visiting village matsuris is one of my favorite activities. There is no comparison to the crowded, tourist-filled events that are the famous city matsuris.


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