Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sagi Mai in Tsuwano

This is a follow-up to the videos I posted yesterday.

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Every year on July 20th and 27th the Sagi Mai is performed as part of Tsuwano's Gion Matsuri.

Though known as the Heron Dance, the birds being imitated are in fact Egrets.

The dance, like the Gion Matsuri itself, was originally from Kyoto, but during the time that Kyoto was a burned out, war-destroyed, ghost town many aristocratic refugees fled to Yamaguchi, and it was from here that the dance was introduced into Tsuwano.

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The people of Tsuwano faithfully kept the dance in its original form and in 1953 they went to Kyoto to teach the dance and it is now performed there again.

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As well as the 2 dancers dressed as egrets, there is a full complement of other dancers, musicians, singers etc all dressed in period costume. The music accompanying the dance seems to be based on ancient Chinese-derived court music rather than any folk tradition.

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On both days the dancers perform at various sites around the center of the town, starting in the afternoon.

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Also performed is the Egret Chick dance, a recent invention of the town. The young girls didnt smile much, which may be due to the solemnity of the dance, or the summer afternoon heat.

As the dates for the festival are fixed they often fall on weekdays which means that the events are not too crowded.

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