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Performing Arts


Bakuchi

Gambling. A game in which people compete and bet or gamble property or money. It can also mean a gambler or someone who gambles for a living. If written it can also be called bakueki or bakuyō. As well as dice games like sugoroku (backgammon), chobo (also choboichi) know from ancient ti...

Bugaku

Refers to the dance performed with gagaku accompaniment. Originally song and dance were performed not only for human entertainment. By performing before the gods, it is thought that they contained the function of soothing the spirits, and of manifesting the communion between gods and humans. The or...

Busha matsuri

A sacred archery ritual which takes place mostly at New Year. It can be written with the characters or and has pronunciation variants such as bisha, hōsha and is practiced widely in shrines in all regions. Unlike mounted archery, the bowman is on foot and is called a kachiyumi. In th...

Furyū

Refers to beautiful and highly decorated structures (tsukurimono) and floats (nerimono) used in festivals and also to the dance and music (hayashi) performed in festivals by costumed dancers and or instrumentalists. Originally in China, the word furyū meant tradition (ifū) and nostalgia ...

Gagaku

Of the various musical forms transmitted from the mainland in early Japanese history, that which was elegant was called gagaku. Indigenous Japanese genres such as saibara and rōei also came to be included as part of the gagaku repertoire, as was music performed at Shinto shrines for ritual fun...

Kagura

Kagura is a sacred artistic rite performed when making an offering to the kami. Usually performed annually or even less frequently, the kami is invited (kanjō) to occupy the sacred area and is worshiped with performances of music, song and dance. The prevailing explanation for the etymology of...

Kisoi-bune

A traditional event featuring row-boat racing. There are records of Nagasaki peiron boats being called kisoibune, but generally they have been called funakurabe or funakake. When held at shrines such events are also referred to as funakurabe, but this custom is a borrowing of the Chinese tradition ...

Kurabe-uma

Horse racing events. Also called kioiuma, komakurabe or keiba. From ancient times such events were held at the court, but during the Heian period (794-1191) they came to be performed by military officers as displays of martial skill and they also took on the character of events to dispel early summ...

Sagi-odori

"Heron dance." A folk ritual performance belonging to the category of furyū (refined) , it is also called sagimai. Sagi-odori originated from dances performed to musical accompaniment at the festival of Gion Shrine (now called Yasaka Jinja). The festival itself evolved from the Kyoto Gion gyor...

Saru-gaku, Den-gaku

Sarugaku was the term used for the performing art of nō until the Edo period (1600-1867). It is also used to refer to the older sarugaku before its development into the classic nō. The origin of sarugaku can be traced back to the sangaku imported from China during the Nara period (710-784...

Shibai

A popular term for "theater" (engeki). Originally the term referred to the lawn (shibafu) of sacred grounds, such as temple or shrine precincts. Since the Edo period (1600-1867) it has also been used to refer to kabuki or kabuki theaters. The Muromachi period had seen the flourishing of performance...

Shin-nō

Divinenō theatre. A type of kagura dance. Part of the repertoire of the Izumo line of kagura, from Izumo, Iwami, Bitchū, Bingo etc. Unlike torimono dances (in which performers dance while holding objects in their hands) shinnō have dramatic elements and are performed by masked dancer...

Shishi-mai

Lion dance. Also called shishiodori. A dance in which the performer wears a decorative lion head (shishigashira). "Shishi" is a term that can refer to wild animals in general, and there are also traditions of "deer" (kanoshishi) and "boar" (inoshishi) dances. Shishimai was introduced from the Asian...

Shishi-odori

Deer dance. A folk ritual performance in which the dancers wear decorative deer heads with antlers. Shishiodori can be considered a variation of the one-man shishimai (or shishi-odori). The reading of the character as "shishi" derives from the fact that deer were called "kanoshishi." Although de...

Sumō

Also written . In ancient times pronounced sumai. In China, from before the Former Han dynasty (202 B.C.E. – 8 C.E.) there was a kind of wrestling called kakuteigi or kakugi (juedixi or juexi in Chinese) which resembled sumō and belonged to the miscellaneous arts of sangaku. Some of ...

Taiko odori

A folk dance of the furyū odori type. It is a group dance, in which the dancers attach a drum (a taiko or a kakko) to the chest or abdomen, and bear on their back a himorogi or a banner (nobori). They dance in time to a hayashi instrumental ensemble consisting of sasara, flute, hand-gong (kane...

Torimono

A prop which is held in the hand of the dancer in sacred dance rituals such as kagura. (It can also be written ʪʪ.) It can also refer to the thing the dancer holds when performing a dance to purify the implements to be used in a sacred ritual or dance. Essentially, it has the function of yo...

Yabusame

A type of mounted archery in which the rider shoots at a target from a galloping horse. Arrows with a turnip-shaped head are used. There is a theory that the etymology of the word Yabusame is a contraction of yabaseume and it is thought to mean to shoot arrows on horsback. Three targets are placed ...





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