Friday, May 15, 2009
One of the things that attracts me to Iwami kagura is the sheer dedication and professionalism of the dancers, though in fact there are no professionals, they are all amateurs.
These shots are of my friend Tetsuhide dancing the purification dance as part of last years Omoto Kagura at Ichiyama.
He's been dancing kagura for over 40 years, and all three of his sons are also kagura dancers. During the week he is a travelling salesman, and on the weekends he helps out in his families business, the village liquor store.
Kagura is performed primarily as entertainment for the kami, but in one sense the dancer also becomes the kami. The dancers hold various kinds of torimono, objects into which the kami descend. For this dance he is using a fan and a large nusa, a type of ceremonial wand.
The regular purification dance with 4 dancers was performed before this one, which is specific to Omoto.
Outside of my local area, Iwami, it is rare to find anyone who knows what kagura is, and yet it is the root of Noh, Kabuki, and other performing arts in Japan.