Sunday, October 10, 2010


October Means Matsuri, Matsuri Means Kagura.

It's that time of the year again......... apologies to any of you who don't like kagura....


Saturday night we headed up into the mountains to the matsuri at the hachimangu shrine in Yamanaka. Never been to this matsuri before so I'm interested to see the kagura. On the 10k drive up to the village we pass 4 shrines all with lanterns blazing..... 4 more all night kagura matsuris....a lot of people in the area will not be sleeping tonight.

We arrived about midnight. Matsuris usually start around 9pm, but the first 2 dances are ritual dances and fairly standard..... not likely to be anything different or unusual. The third dance, the first "theatrical" dance is usually Iwato, and Ive seen that so many times.......

When we walked into the shrine Ebisu was dancing...... and the smaller one was 3 years old. They start young with kagura round here....


We were soon approached by people from the village.... "thank you for coming", "where are you from?" "would you like to eat some Oden?" "would you like some Omiki?".

Bowl after bowl of tasty Oden, cup after cup of Omiki,... 4 or 5 of the village men join us for conversation.

How does our kagura compare to your village? was a question often asked.

The next dance was Jimmu, a tale about the mythical first Emperor. a standard 4 person sword fight, the goodguys.... Jimmu and his aide. The badguys... The Nagasune Brothers, leaders of the people living on the land that the Yamato are invading and taking.

Spent a long time chatting with a man from Izumo. Again, comparisons between Izumo kagura and Iwami kagura were much discussed. He was well-versed in the old stories of Izumo and disdainful of the Kojiki/Yamato version of things..... He knew that Susano was the original kami of Izumo Taisha.... and he told me that most of the kami of Izumo were from Sila (Shiragi). Refreshing.


The next dance was Iwato! It should have been the first dance, but apparently one of the dancers was "tired" (a euphemism for too drunk already I suspect) so it was rescheduled.

It was a very relaxed matsuri. The dancers only dance this one time of the year. They dont play for other shrines nor enter into competitions. Most men in the small audience spent some time relieving musicians who were playing a little too loosely...... around 3a.m. we slipped out and headed down the mountain.....


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