Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sagi Mai in Tsuwano

This is a follow-up to the videos I posted yesterday.


Every year on July 20th and 27th the Sagi Mai is performed as part of Tsuwano's Gion Matsuri.

Though known as the Heron Dance, the birds being imitated are in fact Egrets.

The dance, like the Gion Matsuri itself, was originally from Kyoto, but during the time that Kyoto was a burned out, war-destroyed, ghost town many aristocratic refugees fled to Yamaguchi, and it was from here that the dance was introduced into Tsuwano.


The people of Tsuwano faithfully kept the dance in its original form and in 1953 they went to Kyoto to teach the dance and it is now performed there again.


As well as the 2 dancers dressed as egrets, there is a full complement of other dancers, musicians, singers etc all dressed in period costume. The music accompanying the dance seems to be based on ancient Chinese-derived court music rather than any folk tradition.


On both days the dancers perform at various sites around the center of the town, starting in the afternoon.


Also performed is the Egret Chick dance, a recent invention of the town. The young girls didnt smile much, which may be due to the solemnity of the dance, or the summer afternoon heat.

As the dates for the festival are fixed they often fall on weekdays which means that the events are not too crowded.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Heron Dance (Sagimai)

Just got back from Tsuwano where I watched the Sagimai, the Heron Dance. Tomorrow I will post details and photos, but for now here is a short video.

There was also the Heron Chick Dance, of much more recent vintage.


What was intriguing was just before the dances were to begin a real heron landed and strutted around seemingly quite immune to the dozens of photographers taking its photo.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Surprise Yosakoi

While I was at the kids kagura last saturday, a little bird whispered in my ear that there was going to be a secret, surprise yosakoi performance next morning in front of the local train station. I really like yosakoi dancing, so sunday morning we turned up in front of the deserted station.


Yosakoi dancing was invented in Kochi City back in 1954 and is pretty much traditional movements combined with modern music. Really the only rule is that naruko, japanese castanets, must be used. Yosakoi has spread all over Japan now, and has led to a wide range of styles. costumes etc.


The group performing here, Team Mugen from Okayama City, chose to use kagura flute and kagura melody in their dance, so they turned to 87 year old Ebiya-san, a friend of ours who lives in Kawado. He is the inventor and maker of the "Hero flute" that is now the standard flute in kagura performances here in the west of Japan.


The group had rented a bus and driven up more than 100 miles from Okayama to stage a surprise performance for Ebiya-san, who lives right next to the station.


I hadn't seen a group use lanterns before.


Though quite a few groups have a flag bearer.


You can seee a slideshow of all 47 photos here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yasugi Bushi, Dojou Sukui.

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This is the manhole cover from the town of Yasugi, east of Matsue in Shimane. It shows a dancer dancing the Dojou Sukui. Doujo are small eel-like fish and the dance involves scooping with a basket.

The song accompanying the dance is the Yasugi Bushi, the local folk song that is now known throughout Japan since recordings of it were made in the early 20th century. It is considered one of the most difficult of all Japanese folk songs to sing.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Iki-Iki Matsuri

Iki Iki Matsuri

This weekend was the local "Lively" Festival (Iki Iki Matsuri). The highlight on the second day was the parade. The ladies dance the town dance. Each village that makes up the town have their own "happi" coats with different designs and colors.

2 streets are closed off and stalls and a stage are erected. The festival is a "civic" matsuri, created to instill a sense of identity when the town was created out of widely scattered villages. It's similar to a County Fair in the states.

On the stage there are of course performances of kagura. Also the local Taiko troupe perform, as well as various folk dances. This year instead of a karaoke contest there was an eating contest.

There are exhibitions and displays by all the local arts and crafts societies. I'm always interested to see what the other maskmakers are up to.

There are lots and lots of food stalls, as well as local produce, cheap Chinese toys, tools, a few games, and of course beverages.

Being a rural town there are displays of the latest agricultural machines.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bon Odori

The population of the village has doubled in the past few days. This is O Bon, somewhat similar to the Mexican Day of the Dead, the time that the spirits of the ancestors return to their earthly homes. There is a mass exodus from the cities as children, and grandchildren, return to their home villages. Gravestones have been washed and cleaned, and in our village a matsuri is held.

Bonodori 1

There are food stalls, games, and of course. kagura. First off the kids performed a couple of dances, then it was time for the village group to dance.

bonodori 2

The Ebisu dance is always popular at matsuri's, as he throws bucketfulls of candy out to the kids in the audience.

bonodori 3

And of course the Yamata no Orichi dance where Susano battles the eight-headed serpent.

bonodori 4

But the main event of the night is the Bon Odori. Every region has their own version of the dance, but it usually involves the villagers dancing in a circle around a central platform that holds the drummer and singers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tauebayashi (Rice-planting song & dance)

Yesterday was the Houranenya Matsuri in Gotsu Honmachi, the old town of Gotsu at the mouth of the Gonokawa.

Before the procession started a group from Kawahira, a village between Gotsu and my village, performed a folk dance, the Tauebayashi.


The gentleman with the cool hair-do was leading the dance. His mask appears to be a version of Hiotoko, but may be another character.


Both men and women performed the dance which accompanied rice-planting in earlier times. It's purpose was to strengthen the rice.