The Asahigaoka Kagura troupe performs in Hiroshima.
entertainment

Kagura performances go online to thrill audiences worldwide

12 Comments

The traditional kagura dances of northern Hiroshima are a resilient art form, surviving repression after World War II and population decline. However, COVID-19 is proving to be a foe far tougher than the eight-headed, fire-breathing serpents and web-shooting spider demons that sword-wielding heroes dispatch on stage, to the raucous delight of appreciative audiences.

Almost all the performances and festivals that help fund Hiroshima’s kagura troupes have been canceled or indefinitely postponed.

The pandemic has also halted the weekly “An Evening of Kagura” performances which, through the addition of English subtitles and bilingual MCs, introduced the wonder of Hiroshima kagura to visitors to the city.

However, in the spirit of the legendary heroes portrayed on stage, Hiroshima kagura refuses to succumb to this latest threat. Thanks to funding from the government, “An Evening of Kagura” will return with a series of 11 special performances between November and February. Two shows will be streamed live from a venue in central Hiroshima, while the remainder will be recorded in locations around Hiroshima and later released on YouTube.

All shows will be introduced by an English speaking MC and include English subtitles to help viewers follow the action. The program is not only an opportunity to support this vibrant and entertaining art form, but also to bring the magic of kagura to viewers all over the world.

The performances will be available on the RCC Kagura YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/RCCBCkagura/

Miyanoki・Momijigari.jpg
Miyanoki Kagura Troupe

Performance schedule

Special Livestreams

November 21, 2020, 20:00-21:00 JST

Asahigaoka Kagura Troupe (Hiroshima City)

Tsuchigumo (The Earth Spider)

January 17, 2021, 14:00-15:00 JST

Tenjin Kagura Troupe (Akitakata City)

Takiyasha-hime (Princess Takiyasha)

Online release of recorded performances

Follow the An Evening of Kagura Facebook Page for release dates of the other nine performances.

https://www.facebook.com/EnglishKagura/

Kinsho Kagura Troupe (Kitahiroshima City)

Tsuchigumo (The Earth Spider)

Miyanoki Kagura Troupe (Hiroshima City)

Momijigari (Maple Viewing)

Kawakita Kagura Troupe (Akiota City)

Jinrin (The Winged Demon)

Tsunami Kagura Troupe (Akiota City)

Yamata No Orochi (The Eight-headed Serpent)

Kuwatatenshi Kagura Troupe (Akitakata City)

Katsuragi-yama (Mt Katsuragi, home of the Earth Spider)

Takai Kagura Troupe (Hiroshima City)

Tsuchigumo (The Earth Spider)

Yoshida Kagura Troupe (Akitakata City)

Takiyasha-hime (Princess Takiyasha)

Yachiyo Kagura Troupe (Akitakata City)

Katsuragi-yama (Mt Katsuragi, home of the Earth Spider)

Uegochi Kagura Troupe (Akitakata City)

Momijigari (Maple Viewing)

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


12 Comments
Login to comment

I have seen quite a few of these performances and they are pretty much of a similar theme.

The incessant drumming is sure to put the listeners into a slight hypnotic state...

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

The areas where Kagura is performed are coming under crisis of population shortfall and aging; many young aspirants are also likely to leave hometowns for education or employment.

Hope that the tradition will revive and prosper with technological aid drawing more attentions worldwide.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

So I'm hoping someone can enlighten me - my limited experience of kagura has been those done mainly by miko at various shrines such as Fushimi Inari Taisha, and I was under the impression that these were quite widespread in major centres around Japan. These Hiroshima ken kaguras seem to be something different, and maybe unique?

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

So funny - why are people downvoting comments about factual cultural stuff like this? Very odd... I'm genuinely curious. Maybe they are Bible bashers who object to anything religious other than their own? Who knows...

0 ( +8 / -8 )

my limited experience of kagura has been those done mainly by miko at various shrines such as Fushimi Inari Taisha, and I was under the impression that these were quite widespread in major centres around Japan. These Hiroshima ken kaguras seem to be something different, and maybe unique?

I'm on the other side, unfamilar with other kagura variations such as one in Fushimi. To my knowledge kagura in northern Hiroshima as well as neighoborhoods seems to be more influenced by Izumo Ooyashiro (in Shimane) which holds a distictive shinto tradition from the mainstream evolving around Ise and Kinai (present-day Kansai areas).

In Hiroshima, they perform at theatre in open spaces and overnight (so I often felt asleep amid the peformance). The battle with Yamata no Orochi (eight headed serpent) is a very popular theme.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

ishel:

So funny - why are people downvoting comments about factual cultural stuff like this?

Maybe it's because kagura is designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. Maybe it's simply because it's Japanese. Who knows?

The other day there was an article in JT about UNESCO declaring traditional architectural techniques in Japan as an Intangible Cultural Asset. The negative reaction was truly depressing. Anyone who suggested that it was a worthwhile recognition, or that they'd heard of the list in the first place, or even expressed an opinion that Japanese culture has a great deal to it that's interesting and worth recognizing, was overwhelmingly downvoted.

You'd think that on a site called Japan Today people would be less negative about what makes the country unique (and why so many people are fascinated by it), but apparently not.

I don't live in Japan, but I'm a keen student of it and I've visited several times. I would've done so again in May-June, but Covid... I'll certainly be watching these performances on YouTube. In the meantime, nice to know someone else cares.

https://japantoday.com/category/national/unesco-to-list-japan-architectural-techniques-as-intangible-heritage

1 ( +8 / -7 )

I am excited to see this online! I watched once directly in Hiroshima and really appreciated the English support they offer.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Amazing !!..

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Thanks for the positive supporting comments. It seems the downvoters are just silently downvoting, without any ability to give intelligent reasons. I have my suspicions, to be honest, but best not state them here for fear of a ban. Anyway, good to see other appreciative people commenting! :) Enjoy the kagura!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Never watched kagura but as I'm very interested I upvoted all of yous. :)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kagura live performances are very impressive and a real power spot, so to say. I like Iki Kagura for example, with the highlight of a very talented dynamic young performer presenting sword dances, maybe you heard of Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi too, all accompanied by the traditional music. That really takes you into another sphere like nothing else. Corona pandemic of course hindered this year’s stage event, that means less power from the ancient gods transferred to all of us.... I also doubt that those artificial online performances in the internet can bring the real power to the people, although it’s better than nothing at all in these times.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Always reminds me of 1964 Onibaba.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites