Apr 052013

Good afternoon again from the Itoigawa Global Geopark!

Box Seating ConstructionProgress continues at Amatsu Shrine in preparation for the Grand Spring Festival. These temporary box seats are built every year to accommodate the crowds of people who gather to watch the ‘action’ of the kenka mikoshi (see yesterday’s post!). Today, I want to introduce the Spring Festival’s ‘serenity,’ the ancient court dances called bugaku.

Children Procession

Before the action of the fighting shrines, visitors are treated to a preview of the bugaku as the children who perform it are paraded into the shrine grounds, carried by their fathers.

Child in CostumeThe children wear traditional dress and their faces are painted. The children wear different costumes related to the dance they will perform.

Bugaku Court Dance

Overall there are 12 court dances. Eight performed by children, four performed by adults.

While the exact year is unknown, the dances have been performed here for at least 500 years and they remain as they have for centuries, passed down from each generation to the next.

The slow, graceful movements of these dances form a striking contrast to the excitement and frenzy of the fighting shrines, making the bugaku of Amatsu Shrine a beautiful gateway to a time long past. If you visit Amatsu Shrine for the Grand Spring Festival, do not leave after the fighting shrines has ended, because these dances are not to be missed.




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