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Rustic traditions: Oki Kagura

Location: Nishinoshima Island

The performance of Oki Kagura remains to be one of my most memorable experiences in Japan. There were instances that kagura was shown in anime but the performance in Oki was my first time to witness it in real life.

Kagura, is a type of Shinto dance performed by selected individuals collectively known as sha-ke. Usually, sha-ke refers to the head priest of the shrine but in Oki, sha-ke are the local families appointed to preserve the tradition of the Kagura. Oki Kagura is quite unique, while it has remains true to the traditional Izumo style, Oki’s isolation from the mainland had an influence on how the ritual was perform.

The Kagura is held to pray for good harvests, good catch, for rain, good health and safety in the sea.

Oki Kagura- Mikomai

Mikomai- Oki Kagura

The sequence was performed by one miko, or shrine priestess. The ritual was based on an ancient story where the Sun goddess Amaterasu hid in a cave causing the world to fall into darkness.

The goddess Uzume performs a lively dance to lure Amaterasu out of the cave.

Oki Kagura -Saki Harai No

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The next performance is based on the time when the deity Ninigi and his entourage descended from the Heaven to reign over Japan. This ritual focuses on Sarutahiko, an ancient god, who guides Ninigi during their descent.

Oki Kagura – Kiribe

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This last dance named is based on the period before the heavenly gods, descended from heaven to rule Japan.

The dancer represents Takemikazuchi, the emissary sent by Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, to negotiate the turnover of the lands from the current ruler, Okuninushi.

I did not have much knowledge on Kagura when I came to Oki but these in-depth information found at http://www.japanvisitor.com/oki/kagura  is an excellent source to learn more about the three sequences.

Stay tuned for more posts about my Oki Islands adventure!

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