08 Jun 2018 in Discover Japan
It’s stylized, spectacular and a huge amount of fun. Find out where you can catch a kagura performance!
Kagura literally translates as “God entertainment” – and that’s exactly how it started: as a ritualistic performance in Shinto ceremonies. It’s reckoned to be the oldest form of Japanese theatre, pre-dating Noh and Kabuki, and was created as a way to amuse and appease the Gods in the hope of a good harvest.
Over the years, kagura has diversified into a mind-boggling array of different forms. Mikagura is the original ritual dance performed at the Imperial court and Shinto shrines. Satokagura are folk forms, which can in turn be split into a whole range of sub-categories depending on their themes and region of origin.
What unites all these forms of kagura is the colourful costumes, energetic performances and exuberant actors.
The stories focus on the tribulations and triumphs of heroic Gods overcoming demons and difficulties. The dances are spectacular and superbly choreographed. It’s all a huge amount of fun.
So, where can you catch a performance?
Two Prefectures are particularly well-known for kagura: Miyazaki and Shimane. If you stay at Hoshino Resorts KAI Izumo in Shimane, you’ll be treated to a 15-minute show in the evening, where a cunning God outwits an eight-headed serpent by getting it drunk on sake!
The 16-metre long serpent is a wondrous sight, twisting and writhing in time to the traditional Japanese music. You’ll even be able to take a picture with yourself, the God and the serpent after the show!