On Sunday we went downriver to the Oihikonomikoto Shrine in Matsukawa Oda. They always have their matsuri on a Sunday during the daytime so there is no problem deciding which matsuri to visit like on a Saturday night when there might be 10 or more going on.
The village doesn't have a kagura group so Iwamishindaikagura Kamiko Syachu from Hamada were paid to perform.
The first dance we saw was Kurozuka, a very popular dance especially with older kids. Based on a couple of Noh plays the story revolves around an evil white fox. I was particularly impressed with this groups fox mask.
In the early part of the story/dance a priest and his guide Goriki, spend the night in a house of a pregnant woman. She is in fact the evil fox in disguise and in the video we see here she bewitches and possesses the guide. In the original story she kills and eats him, but in the dance he survives.
The priest then begins to battle the fox. The Kurozuka dance has many different variations depending on the group that is performing it. Often the dance incorporates pantomime and humor and the dancers speak in modern vernacular and local dialect.
The fox will invariably attack the audience and seek out young children to terrify.
Parents seem to take great delight in their kids being terrified and will call the fox to attack their babies. The Japanese believe that screaming loudly will cause their kids to grow up strong and healthy. I personally find it uncomfortable and believe it is more to instill fear in the kids and keep them close to the family and frightened of "outside".
Next dance up was Shoki, the demon-queller.