Yesterday was the annual Gotsu Kagura festival. 7 hours of exciting entertainment for less than the price of a movie ticket!
Kagura is sacred dance, and its home is in the local shrine, but here in Iwami, kagura has become so popular that various opportunities exist to see it outside of the shrine matsuri. Many towns now have an annual festival held in school gyms or auditoriums. Rather than seeing one group perform all night, up to 10 groups each perform just one dance. It's a kind of showcase where groups can see each other.
Being performed on a large stage rather than the usual small kagura space in a shrine means that dances with larger numbers of participants can be staged.
One of the common features of most kagura dances is combat. Bows and arrows, halberds, and swords are used. The theme of many dances is the triumph of good over evil, and in many cases this means the the Yamato defeating their enemies.
With the faster 8-beat kagura of Iwami some of these sword battles can be quite exciting, as can be seen in the short video.