Nowadays Japanese farmers rely heavily on chemical pesticides on their crops, but before such things were available they turned to the world of the spirits for help. Performed now as a folk dance, Mushiokuri Odori, sending away the insects dance, was a religious ritual performed in many parts of the country.
Ancient Japanese religion concerned itself a lot with pollution and purification. Infestations of insects were considered a form of pollution caused to a certain extent by the "sins" of the villagers.
Wearing summer yukata, and accompanied by flute, the drummer dancers make their way around the village stopping and performing the songs.
Accompanying the procession is a straw effigy, nowadays carried in a small pick-up. He represents Saito Sanemori, a samurai who was killed and unceremoniously dragged across a rice paddy by his horse. He represents another aspect of ancient Japanese religious tradition, that of the "angry ghost".