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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Performing Arts
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 yorishiro. It is believed holding this while dancing will activate the divine power. Also, there are cases where the deity which has descended into the torimono can take possession of the dancer, and the torimono is a means to achieve this state of possession (kamigakari). A Heian court kagura ritual called naishidokoro-no-mikagura is composed of singing various kinds of songs. The opening section, which deals with a possessing deity opens with the singing of torimono songs. There are nine kinds of songs: sakaki (sacred leaves), mitegura (ritual paper object), tsue (rod), sasa (bamboo grass), yumi (bow), tsurugi (sword), hoko (halberd), hisago (ladle), and kazura (vines), all being types of torimono. In the mikagura, these torimono are not actually held by the dancer, but the singing of these songs creates their significance for the ritual. However in the songs hayakarakami and sonokoma, there is a dance called ninjōmai where the lead dancer (ninjō) holds in his hand a circle of wicker (fuji) wrapped in white cloth against a branch of sakaki. Torimono dances are often found in folk kagura. In the sada shinnō of Sada Jinja, in Kashima-chō, Shimane Prefecture, there is a suite of seven torimono dances called the Seven Rituals (shichi za no shinji), danced with tsurugi (sword), goza, sakaki (sacred leaves), suzu (bell) etc. For kagura, a mask is not worn in torimono dances, but in masked dances such as the kijin and kōjin, the things carried (stick, staff etc) is called torimono. Mikomai uses props such as a bell, fan, sakaki, and bamboo grass. In the bangaku ֳ found all over Akita Prefecture, Izanagi-ryū kagura of Kōchi Prefecture, and the Izumo-ryū kagura of the Chūgoku region and others, a short shakujō (buddhist priest's staff with metal rings attached) instead of a bell is used. This was originally the torimono used mountain asceticism (shugen). In the mikagura and yudate kagura of the hana-matsuri of Aichi Prefecture, there are dances in which first of all the floral headgear and the cloak to be used are held in the hands and purified in a dance. In Nō, the Sanbasō character holds a suzu, the shi'te of "madness Nō (monogurui-nō) hold a branch of sasa (bamboo grass) and demon (kishin) hold a club (uchizue). Before they were just props, these things originally had the significance of torimono. In Kabuki dance and other types of Japanese dance, many of the things held by the dancer derive from torimono.

— Takayama Shigeru
Karasaki no mai—a ritual dance performed before the kami—of Mita Shrine, the Deputy Shrine of Atsuta Jingū.

Aichi Prefecture, 2008

©Hirafuji Kikuko

In the kagura piece Hie no mai, the dancer performs while holding a bundle of seasonal flowers that has a bell attached to it. This particular kagura piece is only transmitted at Hie Jinja.

Tokyo, 2005

©Ōsawa Kōji

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