Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kawamoto Kagura Competition 2012


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Last weekend I went upriver to the Kawamoto Kagura Competition. While I believe that kagura is best appreciated in a shrine, kagura competitions do offer another type of experience.... comfortable seats, good lighting, and a big stage which is more suited for the Hiroshima style of kagura.. Even though it was a secular event, the first dance is always the purification of the space, performed here by a group from Mitani.

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Next up was the local Kawamoto group and they performed Akoden, a variation on the wicked fox transformed into a beautiful maiden. Though Kawamoto is in Iwami their group performs Horoshima style, with lots of mask changes etc. This was a rousing dance for the home audience with plenty of stand-up comedy, pantomime, and slapstick....

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The Otsuka group from Kitahiroshima then did Rashomon, a dance I dont think Ive seen before that is actually the prequel to the more common Oeyama dance. Fast, furious, but ending with the demons escaping and so setting the scene for Oeyama...

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Next up was the simpler 2 man version of Hachiman performed by the Mihara group. Mihara is a little up in the mountains near my village and Yoko works there. She is friends with Mr. Yamaguchi the group leader who dances the Hachiman part. At 70 years of age Mr Yamaguchi is certainly one of the oldest kagura dancers around..... though still spry and athletic.

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My own village of Tanijyugo was up next with Jinrin,.... 2 heroes and 2 demons...

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There were six more dances after the lunchbreak but I only stayed for one more, Momijigari, another Hiroshima favorite with many mask changes and 4 maidens who transform into demons.....

Kagura competitions have grown in poularity in the past 50 years and do offer the opportunity to see a lot of kagura in an all-day setting rather than the more intimate shrine setting of all-night kagura..... Most towns in Iwami and north Hiroshima now have annual kagura competions. The smaller towns without auditoriums will put them on in school gymnasiums....

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