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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hamada Matsuri: the free entertainment


Listen to the sound of Hamada Bushi Woman's Dance

para para dancing The stage entertainment offered at matsuri varies quite a bit. At Hamada the focus was on Bushi, traditional folk song and dance. Before that though we were treated to a performace of Para Para dancing.

I must admit I had not heard of this type of dancing before, but apparently it was popular about 10 years ago and spread beyond Japan's shore. It was performed by 4 sisters, ganguro, with short skirts, trademark loose-socks, tanned skin, and light makeup.

The essence of Para Para dancing is in hand and arm movements. The body, legs, and feet barely move. Some say it is a derivation of Bon Odori dancing which also favors hand movements.Fishermens wives dance Next up was a performance of Hamada Bushi, this one a song and dance performed by fishermen's wives. Every village and town in Japan has its own "unique" bushi, but to the untrained ear (mine included) they all sound pretty much the same. This one was performed to a recording.
Hamada Bushi Mens dance The local folklore society then performed 2 older bushi, the men's dance and the women's dance. These were performed to an accompaniment of shamisen and drum players, and the sound quality was far superior.
Hamada Bushi Womens Dance Finally, the biggest dance of all, a modern bushi written by noted Okinawan folk singer Kina Shokichi. This was accompanied by keyboard, electric bass, and other modern instruments.
Hamada Bushi new dance Each group of dancers wore a different design of Yukata or Happi coat, and while Japanese folk music and dance can hardly be said to be exciting, it certainly is colorful.

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