Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kamimukae: welcoming the gods.



Last week was the childrens kagura festival over the river in Kawado. The video shows a part of the second dance performed at kagura events, the Kamimukae. The first dance, Shiohare purifies the stage area in preparation for the kami, and the kamimukae invites and welcomes the kami to the performance.

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Kamimukae is usually danced by 4 dancers, but if the kagura group is small then 2 or even 1 dancer can perform it. Like Shiohare, the dance revolves around the 5 directions (north, south, east, west, and centre) and so indicates the Taoism that is at the heart of much of shinto.

What was nice about this performance was that one of the dancers was a girl, something that is becoming more common, but is still not usual.

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Women were forbidden from performing on stage in Japan at around the same time as in England, and Iwami Kagura being a folk tradition in a remote area has been slow to change.

Of course, the mythical originator of kagura was a woman, Uzume, and kagura by miko is also normal.

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