Kagura is a big thing out here in the San’in region. Iwami Kagura, from western Shimane, is especially well known for its costumes. Each one costs thousands of dollars (and tens of thousands of yen!), but I got a chance to see a bunch of them up close and personal.

Photos on a computer screen don’t do justice to the textures!

The eyes roll as the dancer moves!

Note the mirrors.


(This kind of mask sort of served as the inspiration for the oni-like inhabitants of Yomi I drew–though my version looks a bit more like a Muppet.)

Can you tell which one is me, and which one is Tanya, my Russian CIR friend?

These are some of the heaviest costumes I’ve ever worn, but the performers manage to dance surprisingly fast in them.

Can you spot the CIRs?

I’ll start posting the Kojiki manga about this beast early this month. Be on the look out for it!

For those of you living in or around Matsue, there will be a chance to see an Iwami Kaguri group from Hamada City performing at the Shimane Civic Center on February 16th!

Saw this in a Shimane Prefecture newspaper today:

Rough caption translation: Kento (the baby) says: “Last July I went to a summer festival and watched Kagura. My big sister cried, but I was fine even when a fox held me! I want to go see Kagura again someday!”

There are Kagura performances all over Shimane, and this one took place in Oda.

Kagura is an ancient form of dance with roots in Shintoism. The dances retell the stories of legendary gods. I’ve seen it in certain forms, but not a formal performance in a shrine yet. The time will come, and I’ll write more then!