The seventh kagura matsuri for us this month was at Kakushi in Gotsu. Being in a town there were lots of people there and lots of stalls. There were lots and lots of kids running around. It was a Monday night but because of the all night matsuri all the local schools were closed next morning.
First dance we saw was Shioharae, the purification of the dance space. We came here about 6 years ago and Kakushi had their own kagura group, in the more traditional 6-beat style. Tonight Tsuchi kagura group were playing. Tsuchi pay the faster 8-beat style. Actually Tsuchi were the teachers of my own village kagura group.
Next up was Hachiman. The Kakushi shrine, like many round here, is a Hachiman shrine. Last year when we did the rounds of the matsuris it seemed that everywhere we turned up they were dancing the Iwato dance. This year it seems to be the Hachiman dance.
Hachiman danced alone, and fought a single demon.
Next up was Yamato Takeru. There are a whole series of myths/legends/stories about the exploits of the prince known as Yamato Takeru, mostly concerned with his subjugation of tribes outside Yamato control in Kyushu, Izumo, and the East. On his way east he is given a sacred sword by his aunt who was the Head Priestess as the Ise shrine. This is the sword that Susano found in the tail of the 8-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi, and gave to his sister Amaterasu the Sun Goddess, ancestor of the Yamato imperial line.
In the East he is almost killed when his enemies lure him alone into a grassy plain. They light the dry grass all around him but he uses the sword to cut down the grass around him and he creates a firebreak. Since this episode the sacred sword, one of the three Imperial Regalia, has been known as Kusanagi, the grass-cutting sword.