Monday, November 24, 2008
This is the smallest of all the Iwami Kagura masks and is the goddess Uzume. In the most well-known of the ancient Japanese myths, Iwato, it is she who was responsible for getting Amaterasu out of the cave and so bringing light back to the world. She performed a type of shamanic dance, and at the end she pulled down her skirt and exposed her genitals. The cheers of the gathered kami piqued Amaterasu's curiosity so she peeked out of the cave and was pulled out by Tajikarao. This dance is considered to be the mythological origin of kagura.
The kagura dance of Iwato doesn't include the striptease, and is usually a fairly sedate and stylized dance, but I did see one performance wherein Uzume danced frenetically around the stage with sacred sakaki branches and hinted at the shamanic nature of original kagura.