It was a rainy day, so unable to work in the garden or go hiking, I took the opportunity to visit the Omoto Kagura Museum in the little village of Oda across the river from my village. Like many sites out here in the boonies, entrance was free, but it was a very professional display nonetheless.
Omoto Kagura is a form of shamanic kagura whereby the priests dance with a long rope snake representing Omotojin, the local land God. If succesful, a chosen member of the community is "possessed" by the God and oracles for the coming year are spoken.
Once common throughout Japan, and spread from Kumano by shugenja (priests of the Shugendo cult), the practise has died out everywhere except here in Sakurae Town, Shimane. Consequently it has been designated an Important Cultural Property.
The museum itself occupies 2 rooms in the local community centre and features a half-size tableau of the kagura "stage", as well as costumes, masks, and other paraphenalia used in the ceremony. A large-screen TV shows videos of the dances, and the local priest has also donated his extensive library of books on kagura and other forms of folklore.
The kagura itself is performed in November at 6 shrines around the Iwami area. Each shrine performs it every seven years, so some years it does not take place, but this year it will happen twice.
June Festivals in Japan
Cell Phones in Japan
Japan shinto kagura Iwami religion
Monday, June 26, 2006