travel theme 06
A Fast-Paced Performance for the Gods That the Locals Keep Alive
Marvel at the energetic and fast-paced dances of Iwami Kagura while sitting barefoot inside a shrine and surrounded by locals. Participate in a century-old ritual in a world where children are still fascinated by ancient tradition, and townspeople get together to pass on the knowledge while having fun.
Discover Iwami Kagura
Kagura is a type of Shinto theatrical dance practiced since ancient times. The performances are dedicated to the Shinto gods as a way to ask for a bountiful harvest, plentiful fish, and to wish away illness. Kagura is actually practiced all over Japan, although performances are nowadays limited to rare appearances at public festivals and events. However, in the western part of Shimane, the Iwami region keeps the tradition very much alive. The locals are highly involved and to this day there are some 150 active Kagura groups called “shachu”.
Many establishments hold weekly Kagura exhibitions that are open to the public. Oddly enough, it is not taught by a teacher. Performers don't attend classes but instead learn through watching and repeating. In each Kagura group the performers practice together by having fun and bonding. Many of the local children dream of becoming Kagura performers themselves, helping the tradition stay alive.
Where to Visit
The entire area of Iwami in Western Shimane Prefecture is dotted with places where you can Enjoy Kagura. Aside from the many seasonal events, there are regular Kagura performances in the towns of Oda, Gotsu, Hamada, Masuda, and Tsuwano. Saturdays and Sundays are the days when most of the performances are held.
The quaint hot spring town of Yunotsu offers a great background for enjoying Iwami Kagura. Tatsu no Gozen, a Shrine overlooked by a rock formation that looks like a dragon's head, hosts Kagura performances every Saturday. Here you can also visit the workshop of a Kagura mask maker and try to paint your own Kagura mask.
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