Went to the neighboring village of Ichiyama last night for the annual Kids Kagura festival.
As we arrived in the village the golden sliver of the new moon was just dropping behind the mountains. As we walked down the dark street, the hypnotic sounds of bell and drum wafted out of a Tenrikyo church. Tenrikyo is sometimes labelled a "New Religion", sometimes a sect of Shinto, and its quite popular around here.
At the community building where the kagura is to be performed a Shinto ritual was still taking place. The two shrines are to a God of fire and a God of the harvest,
Out on the street people started to arrive and the smell of barbecue and yakitori permeated the air.
Friends arrived, and the sake flowed, and I was introduced to a really interesting old gentleman, Mr. Hasegawa, who is an expert on kagura and local folklore. His "hobby" is embroidering the fantastically ornate kagura costumes, and he produced all the objects and models in the local kagura museum
The kagura dances were great. There were a couple of 6 year olds who were dancing publicly for the first time, and the concentration showed in their faces, but they did real well. I was also impressed with a couple of the junior highschool boys dancing. I guess Ive seen enough kagura by now to be able to discern what is good or not.
As we drove back into our village, we almost ran over 3 little baby boars. Momma should have been nearby, but I couldnt see her. She was probably down in the rice-paddies. Its been a few months since Ive eaten any boar, but these guys were so small they werent worth trying to catch. Better wait a year till they are bigger and fatter.
Japan Shimane Ichiyama kagura folklore podcast shinto