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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Performing Arts
Divine 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 dancers. For example, the Sada shinnō performed at the Sada Shrine (in Kashima Town, Yatsuka County, Shimane Prefecture) is comprised of twelve -style dances which deal with myths or the origins of the shrine. These are the Ōyashiro, Makirime, Itsukushima, Ebisu, Yamatotakeru, Hachiman, Iwato, Sankan, Yaegaki, Kōjin, Sumiyoshi, and the Takemikazuchi. According to one explanation, the Sada shinnō dates back to approximately 1608, at which time a priest of the shrine, Miyagawa Hideyuki, is thought to have returned to Sada after studying in Kyoto, and then created shinnō dances modeled on . The oldest written record of shinnō is from 1639, not long after this supposed origin and is in the documents of the Miyagawa family. According to this record, twelve members of this priestly house were responsible for the performance of five shinnō dances. The kagura of Sada Shrine is made up of seven ritual torimono dances (shichiza), three ceremonial dances (shikisamban), and the shinnō dances. Since the Meiji period this entire repertoire has been referred to as Sada shinnō. The kagura of Sada Shrine is presented in conjunction with the annual ritual of the changing of the mats (gozakae). On the evening of September 24 the seven torimono dances are performed. The next night the torimono dances are performed again, followed by the shinnō dances. Until the Meiji Restoration (1868), the gozakae was attended by the priests of subsidiary shrines in the so-called "three-and-a-half counties of Izumo" (Shimane, Aika, Tatenui, and the western part of Ou county). The same priests also participated in the kagura. Starting from the three-and-a-half counties of Izumo, Sada shinnō eventually spread throughout the entire region and significantly influenced the kagura of various areas in the San'in (Shimane, Tottori and the Northern parts of Yamaguchi prefectures) and San'yo (Okayama, Hiroshima and the southern parts of Yamaguchi prefecture) regions as well. However, in cases such as the Oku-Iishi kagura of Iishi County and the Mimiku kagura of Izumo City, although they many of the dances have the same names as in Sada shinnō, the content of the dances are considerably different. Due to local innovations and the addition of new dances, the many local varieties of shinnō have come to have their own individual character.

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