Sacred dances performed for New Year in Kochi

Sacred dances with a history of more than 1,000 years in a western Japanese town have been performed to celebrate the New Year.

A group from Yusuhara Town gave the performances at a theater in Kochi City.

In a popular program, called "Daiban," a performer, symbolizing a violent demon, danced wildly to traditional music.

The performer was wearing a red face mask with its eyes and mouth painted gold, and holding branches of a sacred tree in both hands.

The "demon" picked up children from the audience, one after another, and carried them onto the stage.

The act is believed to bring them good health throughout the year. The performer had taken disinfection measures backstage this year, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A mother who had her three-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter carried onstage said she wants her children to grow up strong. She expressed hope that the pandemic will quickly subside so that everyone will be able to spend the year smiling.