I was recently invited to attend and capture a Kagura performance in Shibuya, Tokyo. Kagura began as sacred dances performed at the Imperial court by shrine maidens, supposedly descendants of AmeNoUzume ( the shinto goddess of dawn, mirth and revelry). Over the years, these dances developed into a number of different popular variations, one of them being the modern day Kagura performance I had the chance to witness.
Ishiyama shachu is the oldest Kagura company of the Kanto region, traceable back to the Mid-Edo period. Their knowledge and talent has been passed through ten generations! Kagura is a very refined art that requires so many people and so much skill to perform. With the help of amazing costumes, masks and acting, it takes you on a trip to the ancient, traditional Japan.
The performance I attended to, “Ibukiyama”, is a tale of a brave and rebel prince that comes from war to his princess wife. But their happiness doesn’t last long, as the fierce god of mount Ibuki awakens and terrifies everyone with his wrath. The prince departs to kill it trusting his own strength and not paying attention to the Princess, who is begs him to take his sword. The battle ends with a fatally wounded prince, that dies and transforms into a white swan. But the legend says that the spirit of the prince still watches over Japan, specially Yamato, where he was born.
It’s truly a beautiful experience if you’re interested in Japan’s culture and history. You can check out Ishiyama Shachu’s site for future performances!
Thank you for reading, talk to you guys very soon!