Listen to music from the Mushiokuri Odori Festival
Went up into the mountains to Iwami Town (Central Shimane) this afternoon to watch a dance that used to be performed all over the country in earlier times, but has now all but disappeared.
The dance was part of a religious ceremony that was held to rid the rice paddies of insects, a form of spiritual pest control that is no longer needed due to Japan's heavy use of chemical pesticides nowadays.
Starting at 10am in the morning, the dancers and musicians travel around the village stopping and performing their dance at numerous points. Dressed in summer yukata and with wide-brimmed hats decorated brightly, the dancers carry drums and are accompanied by other drummers, metal bells, and flute. The dancing ends at 6pm.
Travelling along with the dancers is a straw effigy of a samurai on horseback. He is the "scapegoat", and after the dancing he is placed in a fast-flowing river to wash away the "sins" of the villagers that were held to be responsible for the infestations of insects.
Buy beautiful Japanese dance fans.
Japan Shimane festival podcast dance
Friday, July 21, 2006