Showing posts with label kamimukae. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kamimukae. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kanzui Matsuri 2

For various reasons I only managed to get to one matsuri this Autumn, so I thought I would post on each dance in a little more detail.

The second dance is kamimukae, the welcoming of the gods.


kagura, like other "entertainments" at shrines is put on primarily for the kami, but fortunately the kami enjoy the same kinds of things as we mortals. After the space has been suitably purified the kami are welcomed. This is a shinji, a ceremonial rather than theatrical dance and is usually danced by 4 dancers, though I haver seen it danced with a single dancer.


Here at kanzui it was danced by only three, and like some other shrines Ive been to it was presented by the youngest members of the troupe, and is usually one of the first dances learnt by beginners.


The kids were very nervous, its possible that this was the first time they had performed this dance publicly, and the leader was seated just offstage to offer prompts. 2 of the dancers were girls. In recent years girls have started to dance kagura, though as yet I have not seen any dance any of the theatrical pieces. Girls playing the instruments is far more common.


Monday, October 18, 2010



Saturday was the matsuri in our own village, but first we headed up into the mountains to check out a matsuri we hadn't been to before at Kanzui Uehata Shrine.
Kanzui is remote. There is no village as such, just scattered farms up and down the narrow valley.
One of the first walks I took in this area was here and I was amazed that in 15 kilometers there was but one vending machine.

We arrived just as the ceremony was finishing and once inside we were invited to partake of the Omiki.

The first dance was a surprise. Usually the first dance is Shioharae, the dance that purifies the dance space in preparation for the dancing, but here they performed a dance I have never seen before, the Akuma'barai, the Purging Demons dance. It is danced by Sarutahiko. the earthly kami that marries Uzume, and his red face and long nose makes him indistinguishable from Tengu.


The dance seems to be more common in the Bitchu region than around here.


The next dance up, Kami Mukai, the welcoming of the gods, was danced by children, but also unusually it was 2 girls. Until recently Iwami Kagura was an all-male affair. Gradually girls have begun to perform as musicians, and occasionally dance some of the ritual dances, but as yet I have never seen a female dance any of the theatrical pieces.


The last dance we saw before heading off to our home village was Yumi Hachiman, and in this dance Hachiman was played by a young boy.

I got really good vibes at this matsuri, from the shrine, the performers, and the small number of villagers in attendance. Next year I plan to spend much longer here as I suspect there are more surprises in store for me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kamimukae: welcoming the gods.

Last week was the childrens kagura festival over the river in Kawado. The video shows a part of the second dance performed at kagura events, the Kamimukae. The first dance, Shiohare purifies the stage area in preparation for the kami, and the kamimukae invites and welcomes the kami to the performance.


Kamimukae is usually danced by 4 dancers, but if the kagura group is small then 2 or even 1 dancer can perform it. Like Shiohare, the dance revolves around the 5 directions (north, south, east, west, and centre) and so indicates the Taoism that is at the heart of much of shinto.

What was nice about this performance was that one of the dancers was a girl, something that is becoming more common, but is still not usual.


Women were forbidden from performing on stage in Japan at around the same time as in England, and Iwami Kagura being a folk tradition in a remote area has been slow to change.

Of course, the mythical originator of kagura was a woman, Uzume, and kagura by miko is also normal.