Showing posts with label oni. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oni. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Latest Masks


The two latest masks I completed. Every winter I have a rather optimistic plan to finish lots of new masks. Summers are too humid to make them as everything stays soft and doesn't dry properly. As usual the universe conspires to give me so many chores to do that I don't get the time I want on my masks.


These are two of the most popular of my masks. The customer has been waiting for them for a year. Obviously a very patient man, but he did say that my masks were worth waiting for. Sucker for flattery that I am. The garden will be demanding my time in a moon or two, but hopefully I will get time now for some new masks. I have been trying to finish a couple of Kitsune masks for three years now......

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Shrine Masks


Continuing with some photos of masks I found in shrines while walking along the Iwami coast this past spring. In a small shrine in a remote fishing cove near Orii were this pair of Ebisu and Daikoku, 2 of the 7 Lucky Gods, and often paired together.


At the Kasuga Shrine in Sufu was this pairing of, I think, Shoki and Oni. These are much older, wooden masks.


At the Itsukushima Shrine in Matsubara another Ebisu-Daikoku pair. They look as if they may have been made out of plaster. I have a small pair made out of plaster at home.


At Ikan Shrine in Shimokou, a demon mask with some variations that I hadnt seen before leading me to believe it is from a mask maker I have not encountered before. The use of curved fangs is unusual and something I had been thinking of incorporating into my own masks.


Finally, at the Hekireki Shrine next to the site of the former Kokubunji, yet another Ebisu- Daikoku pair

Friday, June 26, 2015

Shrine masks


While walking along the Shimane coast in the spring I stopped in at as many shrines as I could. One of the things I seek out at shrines are masks. many shrines will have masks on display in the main hall  to ward off evil or to attract good fortune. Sometimes they will be regular kagura masks vworn by dancers, but sometimes they will be large and non-functional as masks. This first one was an older, wooden demon mask at Kakihime Shrine in Kushiro near Masuda.


Not far away at the Hachimangu in Tsuda there were a lot of masks on display, the most intriguing being this large demon mask, also wooden and old.


Masks will often come in pairs, the left one is certainly a Karasu Tengu, which would usually be paired with a long-nosed Tengu, but I am not sure if that is what the right hand mask is.


There was also a pair of Tengu in the normal coloring and style.....


And there was a Shoki mask. Shoki, a daoist demon-queller is conflated with Susano in Japan and the two masks are often interchangeble.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hachiman Shrine, Yuki


These two demon masks were located behind the main building of the Hachiman Shrine in Yuki, a fishing village on the south coast of Tokushima. The spot is named Oni no Koshikake, "Demons Seat".


Apparently several local people saw an  Oni sitting at this spot. Interestingly this is not a story from long ago, as it happened on September 15th, 2002.


Being a Hachiman Shrine, the main kami is Ojin, his mother, Jingu, and either his father Chuai, or his "wife" Himegami.


There was a small Ebisu shrine in the grounds, not surprising at it is a fishing village.


Friday, December 19, 2014

The Married Demons of Okazaki Shrine


Okazaki Shrine in the fishing village of Yuki on the Tokushima coast is a small local shrine, now made of concrete. There was no information about which kami is enshrined here.


However there was a wonderful pair of demons carved directly into two sections of massive logs. They were called "Meoto" which usually is translated as married.


There once stood in the shrine grounds a massive, old Tabu no ki tree, which I believe is a kind of Bay tree. The tree became too old and was in danger of falling so it was cut down, and a local man carved the two demons into it.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Month of Little Sleep part 6


After the round of ceremonies at Nakano Omoto Matsuri it was time for more dancing and first up was some very young kids dancing Hachiman.....


Bothe the 2 heroes and the 2 demons were very young kids and they did a really great job...


Next up a couple of older kids danced Shoki...


Then to the other end of the age scale.... an elderly gentleman danced the first part of Yachimata. This was the first time I have seen this dance and the only reference I can find to it says it is danced by Uzume and Sarutahiko. Yachimata is the crossroads between the High Plain of Heaven and Japan and it is here that Ninigi, Amaterasu's grandson, and his entourage meet Sarutahiko on their derscent from heaven to begin their rule of Japan. This old gentleman is obviously not Uzumne, so maybe he is Ninigi.....


The second part of the dance belongs to Sarutahiko....


A break from the theatrical kagura brings us to the Four Swords dance. I have read that originally this dance and Kenmai were once the same dance but then split into 2 separate parts.


The dance increases in tempo and excitement and the audience is well aware when difficult, acrobatic sections have been performed well.....

It was around 2am and there was lots more to come but I was suffering from a bad cold so took my leave early.....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kawamoto Kagura Competition 2012


Last weekend I went upriver to the Kawamoto Kagura Competition. While I believe that kagura is best appreciated in a shrine, kagura competitions do offer another type of experience.... comfortable seats, good lighting, and a big stage which is more suited for the Hiroshima style of kagura.. Even though it was a secular event, the first dance is always the purification of the space, performed here by a group from Mitani.


Next up was the local Kawamoto group and they performed Akoden, a variation on the wicked fox transformed into a beautiful maiden. Though Kawamoto is in Iwami their group performs Horoshima style, with lots of mask changes etc. This was a rousing dance for the home audience with plenty of stand-up comedy, pantomime, and slapstick....


The Otsuka group from Kitahiroshima then did Rashomon, a dance I dont think Ive seen before that is actually the prequel to the more common Oeyama dance. Fast, furious, but ending with the demons escaping and so setting the scene for Oeyama...


Next up was the simpler 2 man version of Hachiman performed by the Mihara group. Mihara is a little up in the mountains near my village and Yoko works there. She is friends with Mr. Yamaguchi the group leader who dances the Hachiman part. At 70 years of age Mr Yamaguchi is certainly one of the oldest kagura dancers around..... though still spry and athletic.


My own village of Tanijyugo was up next with Jinrin,.... 2 heroes and 2 demons...


There were six more dances after the lunchbreak but I only stayed for one more, Momijigari, another Hiroshima favorite with many mask changes and 4 maidens who transform into demons.....

Kagura competitions have grown in poularity in the past 50 years and do offer the opportunity to see a lot of kagura in an all-day setting rather than the more intimate shrine setting of all-night kagura..... Most towns in Iwami and north Hiroshima now have annual kagura competions. The smaller towns without auditoriums will put them on in school gymnasiums....

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Onigawara of Shikoku


Onigawara are "demon tiles" found most commonly on temple roofs, but also on some shrines and even private dwellings.


They are found at the end of roof ridges and were originally wooden boards used to protect the roof from the weather. Tile came to be used and were decorated with flowers and other designs.


From the kamakura period the demon design became popular and in some ways are analogous to gargoyles in the European tradition.


The first  and second  photos are from  Temple 3 Konsenji.  The third photo is from Aizen-in, the fourth from temple 5 Jizoji, and the last photo is from the main gate of Temple 8 Kumadaniji


Friday, June 29, 2012

Kanzui Matsuri part 8


This is the second half of a post on the Oeyama dance as performed at last years matsuri up in Kanzui, The first half can be found here.

The group of heroes dressed as yamabushi find their way to the demons lair and after convincing the demons that they are real yamabushi are invited to spend the night,


There are 4 heroes, and the boss demon and three aides, so a total of 8 dancers packed into the tiny performance space. The king of the demons is distinguished by his oversized mask.


The heroes share the drugged sake with the demons and when they are drunk the fighting begins, each hero putting paid to one demon.

The final scene is when the king demon is confronted by the main hero. But the demon has a trick up his sleeve,..... a demon spider....

I had not seen the spiderweb and spider used in the Oeyama dance before...


The hero of course defeats the spider and the demon and so the world is once again safe.....

It was now 3:30 am and the kagura would be going on for another 3 hours but I left as I felt I neede to put in an appearance at my own villages matsuri which was also being held this night....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kanzui Matsuri 4

Its just about midnight at the small shrine in the mountain settlement of Kanzui not far from my own village. The annual matsuri got underway about 3 hours ago and the fourth dance starts, Michigaeshi, a not very common dance. A few more people arrive and now the audience just outnumbers the dancers and musicians.

Michigaeshi is a fairly typical 2 person dance, the hero and the demon, although the ending is most unusual.


The hero is the kami Takemikazuchi, a complex deity with connections to thunder, military might, and protection from earthquakes in his home area of Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture. He is also enshrined at the Fujiwara's home shrine of Kasuga in Nara where he is considered their tutelary deity. The Fujiwara ruled over the kashima area so either they adopted him from there or possibly brought him there. According to the Kojiki version of the Kuniyuzuri myth he was one of the kami sent to subdue Izumo, though Izumo records make no mention of him.


The demon is unnamed, though follows the classic pattern of being a flesh-eating demon harassing local villagers.

This third video clip shows the battle between the two. If you cant be bothered to watch all the videos, this is the one to watch.

The hero of course triumphs, but, in an unuusal twist does not kill the demon. Instead he offers him the possibility of redemption if he travels to Takachiho in Kyushu, site of the "descent" of the Yamato ancestors from heaven, and take part in the rice harvest there.

When I first came to Iwami and started watching kagura I remember several people telling me that this was their favorite dance precisely because the demon is spared and not killed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Soja Local History Museum


Soja is a small town at the western edge of the Kibi Plain in southern Okayama. The local history museum is housed in the only remaining Meiji Period western-style building left in the town.


Like virtually every other local history museum in Japan they have an exhibit of clothing made from rice straw.


The bulk of the exhibits however are rather unusual and focus on the local industry, travelling salesmen of medicines.......


Anyone interested in Meiji or Taisho era graphic design would be pleased. These were door-to-door salesmen selling what we might call first aid kits.


They also had a few nice wooden masks.


Before we left the curator gave us some free gifts...... paper balloons "kami fusen". These were the free gifts that the salesmen carried to give away to kids.

He also gave us a detailed map of the area around the Kibi Bike Path that was in English and far more detailed than the map given us by the bike rental shop.