Showing posts with label tengai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tengai. Show all posts

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Month of Little Sleep part 10


On Sunday 21st October we went to the Omoto Matsuri up in the small settlement of Yudani. It is a small settlement, getting smaller. Only 34 households remain and they are mostly old folks...... there are no kids. The Omoto Matsuris only occur every 7 years and are expensive affairs and only 34 families are left to fund it. It ended up being a fantastic night with all the hallmarks of a true matsuri.... friendliness, generosity, inebriation, humor etc.... I shot over a thousand photos but choose just a handful.....


After the initial rituals and ceremonies the first kagura was Shihogatame, a dance unique to Omoto Kagura but which is similar to Kamimukae in regular Iwami kagura.


At a usual ceremony there may be half a dozen to a dozen offerings placed on the altar, but given the importance of Omoto rituals there will be anything from 30 to 50 different items....


Possibly my favorite Omoto kagura "dance" is Tengai, unique to Omoto. I have seen it performed by priests and also by kagura dancers, but in my experience it is the priests who put on a more dynamic dance.....


The Ebisu dance was unique, for me at least, in several respects. usually Ebisu dances alone, or sometimes with Daikoku, and its usually just a pantomime with him throwing candy to the crowd and then catching a Sea Bream. This was the "complete" Ebisu dance with the first part danced by a dancer as a priest, then with Ebisu, and then finally the "usual" Ebisu dance. usually the fish caught by Ebisu is made out of paper, but here they used the actual fish that had been on the altar as offering to Omoto.


At 6am the final ritual/dance took place and this is where possession, kamigakari, will take place, if it take place. The rope snake representing Omoto is swung violently backwards and forwards by the priests. To the rear you can see the villager who had been designated to be the recipient of possession. kamigakari did not occur.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shamanic dance in Japan

Shamanic dance in Japan

From 6:30p.m. yesterday evening until 5:30a.m. this morning I visited the Omoto kagura Matsuri in the village of Eno.

Had a fantastic and exhilarating time thanks to the hospitality and effort of the villagers and dancers,... lots of free delicious food and sake!, and some great dances.

At some point I will post in more detail about the rituals and dances, but for now a few videos of the shamanic elements of the night.

A little after midnight a young villager gave a stellar performance of the Mat dance, Gozamai. The congregation/audience showed their appreciation at the finale for a great effort of an athletic dance.

Around 1a.m. was the Tengai dance. It still remains my favorite of all the Omoto dances. Unusually it was kagura dancers who pulled the strings, not priests.

Around 4a.m. Omotosan, in his form as the rope snake, was taken down from the altar and the priests and dancers performed the Tsunanuki, the Rope Pulling dance.

Following Tsunanuki, Omotosan is suspened from the Tengai canopy, and the final dance in the shamanic portion of the festival took place. Jyojyu is the dance wherein possession is most likely to occur. This year Omotosan chose not to speak.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tengai Dance, Omoto Kagura

This short video is from my favorite of all the Omoto Kagura dances. The tengai is the canopy above a kagura performance space. The kami descend through the colored paper streamers and into the dancers.


The tengai dance is unusual in that it is not humans who dance, but the tengai itself. I have not come across anything like this anywhere else in japan, and I have a lot more research to do to understand it.


For Omoto kagura there is a somewhat different tengai, among the paper streamers are lantern/box like structures.


The boxes are connected by ropes to the priests who sit at the side of the area.


Before the dance begins long streamers inside the boxes are unfurled and hang down. I suspect the writing on them has daoist or esoteric buddhist meaning, as Omoto Kagura was brought to this area by Yamabushi of Shugendo.


The dance begins slowly with the boxes being lowered and raised slowly, gradually the tempo increases and then lateral movement, swinging, and twisting all begin. As with normal kagura, at times audience members or musicians will shout when a particularly fine sequence of movements are executed.


I've seen the Tengai dance performed by 3 priests, and once by only 2 priests, and was stunned by the intricacy and complexity of the movements created.