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Japanese dance

Nihon-buyo

Nihon-buyo is the artistic Japanese dance.
On a stage or in a Japanese room, one or some dancers worn Kimono dance.
The dance originally came from Kabuki, and the movement and music resemble it.
There are many schools of Nihon-buyo in Japan, and main 5 schools are Hanayagi, Fujima, Wakayagi, Nishikawa and Bando.

"Nihon-buyo" exactly means "Japanese dance" in English, but we use this word in the sense of this artistic dance.

Nihon Buyo foundation
On a stage In a Japanese room

Kagura

Kagura is the dance for Gods of Shinto, so we can see it at any Shinto shrine.
It is danced when the festival of each shrine or the ritual of association.
In many case, female attendants of the shrine dance to the Gagaku (Japanese ancient music). It is very slow and solemn.

Kagura by shrine maidens
Kagura in Itsukushima Shrine

Bon-odori

Bon-odori in a town Bon-odori means the dance at Bon season.
"Bon" is originally Buddhist event occurring from the 13th to 16th August to hold a memorial service to the spirits of ancestors.
So in the old days, people danced for their ancestors for this time of year.
Recently Bon-odori is danced in various days in summer. And it is danced in throughout Japan.

Usually Bon-odori is held by each community association.
A tower is made in the center of town square, a big drum is played on the tower, and many people in the town dance in a round to beat of the drum and music. Of course, everyone can join it.
The movement of the dance is comparatively slowly, and all people dance with same movement without holding hands or pairing like western folk dance.

In this way, Bon-odori is a civic event, so some big ones are popular nationwide in Japan.

Awa-odori

Awa-odori is held in Tokushima prefecture in Shikoku, and it is most famous Bon-odori in Japan.
It is danced as local Bon-odori in each town in the prefecture, but one of Tokushima city is a big festival.
It is held from the 12th to the 15th of August every year and more than one million tourist visit.

Awa-odori is very lively. The tempo of music is faster than normal Bon-odori, and hand bells are added as a instrument.
Men dance exaggeratingly and funnily, and Women dance modestly.
Commonly many groups called "ren" dance as a team through main streets in Tokushima.

Gujo-odori

Gujo-odori is the traditional Bon-odori held at Hachiman town of Gujo city in Gifu prefecture, which is a remote mountain city and usually called "Gujo-Hachiman".
It is held at 32 evenings from mid-July to early September, and especially people in the city continues to dance through the night from the 13th to 16th of August.
For this period, about 300 thousand tourists visit this small city.

Around a float on which musicians play, many dancers of the town dance in a circle to folk music of Gujo.
The dance is relatively easy, so the tourists can join it.

Owara kaze-no-bon

Owara kaze-no-bon is the festival held at Yatsuo town to the south of Toyama city in Toyama prefecture.
It is held from the 1st to the 3rd of September every year, and about 300 thousand tourists visit.

Some music players play the folk song "Owara-bushi", and the dancers of the town go dancing through the narrow streets.
The music is played with adding Chinese fiddle, so it is melancholy. And the dance also is calm and elegant.
You may feel short on fun, but this naivety is the essence of this festival.

In addition, because of increasing of tourists, the pre-festival is held from the 20th to 30th of August, the dance session is held for tourists and the model dance is performed every evening.

Eisaa

Eisaa is the Bon festival in Okinawa region.
Each regional young men's associations hold for their ancestors.
The leader parades with carrying a flag, many men dance with beating drum and women dance with a yotsudake like castanet or a towel.
The men from the association sing the folk songs to "sanshin" of Okinawan instrument.
The team goes door-to-door and they dance at each house.

The culture of Okinawa is different from one of the mainland of Japan, so Eisaa is similar to the festival of Continent a little.

Awa-odori in Tokushima city
Gujo-odori
Owara kaze-no-bon in Yatsuo town Eisaa in Okinawa




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