Saturday was the matsuri in our own village, but first we headed up into the mountains to check out a matsuri we hadn't been to before at Kanzui Uehata Shrine.
Kanzui is remote. There is no village as such, just scattered farms up and down the narrow valley.
One of the first walks I took in this area was here and I was amazed that in 15 kilometers there was but one vending machine.
We arrived just as the ceremony was finishing and once inside we were invited to partake of the Omiki.
The first dance was a surprise. Usually the first dance is Shioharae, the dance that purifies the dance space in preparation for the dancing, but here they performed a dance I have never seen before, the Akuma'barai, the Purging Demons dance. It is danced by Sarutahiko. the earthly kami that marries Uzume, and his red face and long nose makes him indistinguishable from Tengu.
The dance seems to be more common in the Bitchu region than around here.
The next dance up, Kami Mukai, the welcoming of the gods, was danced by children, but also unusually it was 2 girls. Until recently Iwami Kagura was an all-male affair. Gradually girls have begun to perform as musicians, and occasionally dance some of the ritual dances, but as yet I have never seen a female dance any of the theatrical pieces.
The last dance we saw before heading off to our home village was Yumi Hachiman, and in this dance Hachiman was played by a young boy.
I got really good vibes at this matsuri, from the shrine, the performers, and the small number of villagers in attendance. Next year I plan to spend much longer here as I suspect there are more surprises in store for me.