The Inherited

Tradition Today

Shimane Prefecture is regarded as a repository of traditional performing arts.

In the Oki Region, the eastern Izumo Region, and the western Iwami Region,

many traditional performing arts are preserved as the spiritual foundations for the local people.

The festival introduces some of them through film

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石見神楽 八調子

Iwami Kagura   Ha-choshi, fast-paced dance  (Iwami Region)

Iwami Kagura is a traditional performing art preserved in Iwami Region of the western Shimane Prefecture since old times. The plays are mainly based on Japanese mythology, and are performed by dancers wearing sacred and expressive masks and flamboyant costumes accompanied by stirring drum music and melancholy flute melody. The repertoire comprises approximately 30 plays, including ritual dances to receive deities into the place and narrative kagura-noh (kagura in Noh style) based on Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and Nihon Shoki (The Chronicle of Japan). Currently, the performances are held not only in Japan but also overseas and have been receiving much acclaim.  In 2019, the kagura was designated as a Japan Heritage by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

The video introduces Iwami Kagura Preservation Group Kushiro Shachu (Masuda City) who has a history of 170 years.

Period of performance: every year between September and November (performances dedicated at shrine annual celebrations) *Regular evening performances and competitions are also held throughout the year.

【Japan Heritage “Mythical Worlds Abound with Gods and Demons - Kagura Tradition Kept Alive in the Iwami Region –“】

出雲神楽 大土地神楽

         Izumo Kagura – Odochi Kagura - (Izumo City)​

Odochi Kagura of Taisha Town, Izumo City has more than 300 years of history with powerful and simple movements and many Noh dance elements. The kagura and the group has inherited various plays: ones that are unique such as Yama-no-Kami (Deity of Mountain) based on the legend of Ama-no-Iwato, in that the Sun Deity hid herself in a cave and came out to bring light back to the world, Gogyo (Five Elements) based on the Yin-yang Five Elements philosophy, plays of adult dance, children dance and girl dance. Thus it is regarded as the vanguard of amateur kagura and children kagura in Japan as well as invaluable upon tracing the history of Izumo Kagura. The group not only performs the kagura at the annual celebrations of the local Odochi Kojin Shrine every year in October and of Izumo Grand Shrine but also is passionately engaged in preserving and promoting activities being invited and performing at various places in Japan and overseas.

【Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan, Registered as a comprising organization of Japan Heritage “The Sunset in the Sacred land of Izumo - Sunset Created by the Gods –“】

出雲神楽 海潮山王寺神楽

​ Izumo Kagura  Ushio-Sannoji Kagura (Unnan City)

The mythology of Izumo accounts for two third of the Japanese mythology including Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan). Ushio-Sannoji Kagura of Izumo-style kagura inherits 400-year-old tradition in Unnan City, a setting of the mythology of Izumo. In the kagura remain the influences from Sada Shin Noh of the same Izumo culture and also the plays and forms that had been preserved even before then. The video introduces the kagura of Sannoji Wano Kagura Group, whose Ushio-Sannoji Kagura is recognized for the beauty and the profoundness of the dance and is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture. Since 1901, the group has been the principal organization of the kagura of the Izumo Grand Shrine Shintoism, and since then has carried out kagura performance for three days and three nights in dedication to the tutelary deities at the annual celebration of Izumo Grand Shrine every year in May for almost 120 years.

【Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture *Ushio-Sannoji Kagura of Sannoji Wano Kagura Group】

関乃五本松節

     Seki-no-Gohonmatsu-Bushi Singing (Matsue City)

“Seki-no-Gohonmatsu-Bushi” is a form of folk singing inherited in Mihonoseki, Matsue City, and has devotees throughout Japan. It is thought to have originated from the locals who made a song stemming from their impotent feelings of grief about a particular pine tree: in the Edo Period, there were five pine trees in the area which was the land mark for the boats coming into the Mihonoseki Port and one day one of them was cut by the lord of Matsue Clan with the reason that it disturbed the view. The highlights are not only the song but also the dance, shamisen (three-stringed Japanese guitar) and drum, and the national competition is held annually in Mihonoseki Town. The video introduces the ceremony of the first singing of the year with the members of preservation association in bright kimono held annually at the local Miho Shrine, where a deity who favors music and dance is enshrined.  

【Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture】

隠岐島前神楽

Oki Dozen Kagura (Nishinoshima Town)

In the Oki Region, simple and quaint kagura are preserved both in the Dogo area encompassing Okinoshima Town and in the Dozen area of the western islands. Dozen Kagura is one of them, performed in three islands: Nishinoshima Island, Nokanoshima Island, and Chiburi Island. It was originally performed by the Shake, the members of a family who specialize in performing kagura for prayer, but is currently performed by local residents. It has been handed down not only as Shinto ritual but also as prayer kagura in which shrine maidens play important roles to pray for rain-making, the abundant catch of fish, and recovery from illness. There are also unique plays such as “Maiko” (dancing child) which is danced by a maiden praying for an infant’s safe growth. Kagura does not have a permanent stage, but is performed on a temporary stage specially set with approximately 3.24 square meters for dancing space. Thus, the dynamic dancing is the principle as well as one of the appeals of the performance.

[Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture]

埼田神社青獅子舞

Green Lion Dance of sakita shrine (Izumo City)

Preserved and transmitted in Sakita Srhine in Izumo, The Green Lion (Shishi) Dance of Sakita Shrine features a green lion head, and is uncommon throughout Japan. Today, the lion head from the Oei era (1394 – 1428) is a shrine treasure, and different head is used for the dance. A literature compiled in 1717 has the description about the performance of the lion dance, thus it indicates the preserved dance form is considerably old. The lion dance has 12 parts and is performed by three foundational dancers. Today dedicated performances are held in the shrine every year in October. The Green Lion Dance was also influenced by the Ise-style lion dance. One of the characteristic is the use of Binzasara, or a wooden percussive instrument clapper, originally used in Dengaku dance, by Bannai, the performer who plays as a guard of the procession, in this dance.

[Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture]

佐陀神能

      Sada Shin Noh (Matsue City)

Sada Shrine in Kashima Town, Matsue, has a long history and is worshipped as one of Three Great Shrines in Izumo. Sada Shin Noh is the collective term of the three Shinto ritual dances: Seven Ritual Dances, Shiki-samba, and Shin Noh. These dances are performed at Gozagae-sai, the ceremony of changing the rush mats, upon which the tutelary deities of the shrine will sit, and is held every year on September 24th and 25th. Regarded as the origin of Izumo-style kagura, this Shinto ritual dance has been performed since old times and is considered to have greatly influenced the village kagura of every region of Japan. It has incorporated the Noh style in the Keicho era (1596 - 1615), and it is highly valued in terms of performing art history in that the Noh characteristics such as Shite (main protagonist), Waki (counterpart), Tsure (Shite’s companion), and Waki-tsure (Waki’s companion) are reflected in the plays and the characters. It is also considered to be an invaluable and unprecedented performing art in the respect that kagura in the Noh style is performed in dedication to deities at a shrine celebration.

[UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan]

大元神楽 六調子

         Omoto Kagura  (Iwami Region)

The stooping movements of agricultural work and slow dance became the form of “Roku-choshi kagura” which is regarded as the original form of Iwami Kagura. Omoto Kagura preserved in Sakurae Town of Gotsu City, Onan Town and Kawamoto Town, inherits the Roku-choshi kagura still today. The Omoto Kagura derives from the belief of the Omoto-deity (a primordial deity of the universe which served as an indigenous agricultural deity in villages) widely worshipped in western Shimane Prefecture since old times. It is considered that the kagura performance was naturally began to express gratitude and veneration for the deity. Over the centuries the kagura has organically developed so by the Edo Period (1603 – 1868), aspects that are seen today could be observed back then. Of note the kagura dancing by Shinto priests was prohibited around 1870, however, the kagura was able to survive and is preserved still today in mountainous areas including Sakurae Town. The video introduces the nationwide unique kagura performed by Imada Dancers Group (Sakurae Town, Gotsu City), a member of Omoto Kagura Preservation Association.

【Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan】