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Kagura: Dancing Beyond Time

Kagura Dance

Alessandra tries Orochi

Cooking Class

Kagura is a ritual dance of Shinto, the indigenous faith of Japan. Since ancient times, it has been offered to the gods in thanks for the blessings of nature. In the Iwami region of Shimane Prefecture, Kagura has developed independently of other styles. Contemporary dancer, Alessandra Lupi visits a small village to explore the many dimensions of this magical performing art. Everything she encounters in the village is completely new to her. She stays in the home of a local couple and experiences preparing a local dish. At a kagura rehearsal, she sees a scene from the popular play, Orochi, and is captivated. Orochi is based on the myth of a giant evil serpent with 8 heads. A god finds a way to calm the serpent with sake and slays it. Through her interactions with the performers, who are passing on the tradition to the next generation, she contemplates the meaning of dance. And so she asks to join a local kagura group to dance in the role of Orochi in an autumn festival. Alessandra searches for the connection between kagura and the local way of life.


Iwami Kagura
More than 100 groups hold Kagura performances regularly in Iwami today.

Doburoku
It is a milky, unrefined sake. In the myth it is the sake that Orochi drinks.

Country Experience
Yasaka offers various workshops to experience country life, such as cooking classes.

Access:
To reach Yasaka form Tokyo, fly to Hagi Iwami Airport, which takes 1 hour and 45 minutes. From there, it takes 1.5 hours by train and bus.

Travel Log - Traveler:

Travel Log

Traveler:Alessandra Lupi, contemporary dancer (Italy)
Date :Oct. 2-7, 2013

Years ago I studied Japanese literature and theater at university, and at that time I read a very short introduction to Kagura. There is very little information about it, compared with the more famous drama genres such as Kabuki and Noh. So before this journey I tried to review all my previous studies but still I didn't know quite what to expect. And of course when I was at the university I never expected that in the future I would have been so close to this mysterious and fascinating dance.
I have been so moved by this journey: moved by all the people I met that made me feel at home, welcoming me with open arms; moved by the stunning Japanese countryside, which is so connected with daily life; moved by the autumn festival itself, with its celebrations and traditions, and of course the amazing dances that I stared at in wonder like a child. The experience of learning Kagura movements enriched me as a dancer too, in the discovery of new themes, rhythms and ways to communicate with the body.
In this journey I forgot the rush of the city and I enjoyed every minute I spent with all the people of the village I visited. I came back with my heart full of deep feelings and strong emotions (and a bit of muscle soreness!).