Toiday, I’ll introduce 4 kafuras which is held in the most beautiful season of blossoming cherries within 2 hours from Tokyointroduce.
introduce four kaguras (Japnanese traditional folk performing art) in cherry blossoms blooming season
If you ask some Japanese which season is the best to visit, most people will answer that it is for the blooming cherry blossoms.
In this season, cherry blossoms begin to cover Japan starting from the south region and moving up north for two months. The bolssoming status in each region is reported on TV or radio. Many people go out, dressed a new in spring clothes upon hearing such.
The mountains, the rivers, the towns all views change from dark color to pale pink.
Through out history, people have loved cherry blossoms. One famous poet composed the poem (waka 和歌) which reads “Hopefully, I will die under the blossoms in the spring time.” And another poet said;
“If it were not for/ cherry blossoms in the world/ How peaceful and calm/ The heart in spring could be.”
confer ; http://dharmaechoes.blogspot.com/2010/04/heart-in-spring.html
The cherry trees has had strong influence on Japanese lifestyles. The cherry trees represent, so to speak, Japanese culture itself. In this season, if you see traditional kagura 神楽, you can grasp the whole Japanese culture in one day.
The following 4 kaguras will be taken up here today. Every kagura is held in April.
・Fuji sengen shrine Daidai Kagura on the 1st Fujioka city, Gunma prefecture
・Iidama shrine Daidai Kagura on the 2nd Maebashi city, Gunma prefecture
・Yamanashi oka shrine Daidai Kagura on the 4th Fuefuki city, Yamanashi prefecture
・Kamiyamakawa Daidai Kagura on the 5th Yuki city, Ibaraki prefecture
I guess that each kagura is worth watching. You can feel Japanese culture, besides you can get a lot of good luck fortune. THis is not metaphor. Of course, you can get a mystical feeling in a shrine. Moreover, you can get many “good luck” items. This is why “mochimaki” is held while kagura’s at all these shrines. What is “mochimaki” ? Please read the following text if you wish know more about it.
These two people seem ready to guide you, this time. Then, could you two introduce yourselves, please ?
Well, let’s go to watch kagura with them.
1. Fuji-sengen shrine Daidai kagura
Date; 1st, April
Location; Fujioka town 1152, Fujioka city, Gunma prefecture
Access; 10-minutes walk from Fujioka 藤岡 station (JR line), To get to Fujilka from Tokyo, you take Ueno-Tokyo line (JR line, bound for Takasaki), and change at Kurakano 倉賀野 for Hachiko line 八高線. It takes about 2 hours.
*This article is written based on the experience when the writer visited the place in 2016. The program procedures are basically the every year.
The precinct is wide. Main hall (Hon-den 本殿) is at the center. This building is on a hill which overlooks the view of whole precinct. This hill is old grave. This kagura-den 神楽殿 (hall for playing kagura) is right in front of the main hall. This building has two stories, the stage is on the second floor. You can watch from under the hall or from the main hall. which is a little away.
The kagura starts at 11:30 am on schedule.
First progarm is “Omoikane“. The player white cloth dances alone, holding a bell and staff of pleased paper stream.
Second program is “two Koyanes“. Two players are on the stage. They were white and black mask of old men. They dance bisymmetrically with paper streamer and bells, too.
Third program is “three deities of Sumiyoshi“. Three players appear on the stage who each wear cloth of different colors, white and yellow. They dance symmetrically with great skill amis falling of paper of pale pink prtals.
Every program is short which lasts within 10~15 minutes.
Toward the end of this program, people gather around the kagura-den.
Many people appered on the stage, and began to throw many things.
After the ceremony of mochinage, the program starts again.
Next program is “Miko mai“. “Miko” is a shrine maiden consecrated to deity. Miko-mai is a type of dance performed by “miko”. The way to dance is different in every region. Here, four elementary school girls are performing. This is shorter than other programs which lasts within 5 minutes.
”Sarutahiko“. One player weares red and long-high nose mask and holds a bell and long sword in his hands.
”Iwatobiraki” →please refer to “Reference”→”Japanese mythology”
One player wears black clothes red “hakama” and holds gold folding fan. “Hakama” is Japanese skirt for formal wear. He is deity named “Tajikarao 手力男”. He plays the role of removing “Iwato”. In this kagura, a blackboard represent it. He takes it off, exposing a little girl traditional wear of “miko”. She represents “Amaterasu”.
After the first player leaves, “Miko-mai” plays again. And two players wearing black and white clothes and mask of old man bisymmetrically. At last, the first player “Tajikarao” appears again.
At last, mochinage ceremony is held again, and there is a lunch break. It is about 20 minutes.
”A sword dance” One player has a mask of surprising and long hair. He walks powerfully swinging a sword.
“Miko-dance” one player.
”Ryujin (deity of dragon)“
”Hachiman” This is a deity of battle and war. He drive out evil spirits to shoot a bow.
After”Sagomai” and “miko-mai“, 15 minutes intermission
”Hakuhatsu (deity with white hair)”
Ebisu finally caught a sea bream as expected and got off.
Finally, people were throwing sweets splendidly and all programs ended. It was 5 pm.
to be continue to vol. 2