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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Performing Arts
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 origins of bugaku are the indigenous dances such as Yamatomai, Azuma-asobi, Kumemai and Gosechi-no-mai and also the imported masked dances of gigaku. The latter are classified into either Chinese style (Tōgaku) or Korean style (Komagaku). There were teachers (maishi) and students (maishō) in the Department of Gagaku (gagaku ryō) of the Ritsuryo state. Their performances were divided into sahō (Chinese-style) and uhō (Korean-style). On ceremonial performance occasions, performers were not necessarily professionals belonging to the Department of Gagaku. For example, according to a record of the Goryō-e ceremony performed at the Shinsen-en gardens in 863, in addition to the dancers of the left and the right "children of imperial retainers and pages of aristocratic families" also performed, dancing to the accompaniment of gagaku. Earlier still, on the occasion of the opening of the eyes of the great Buddha at Tōdaiji in 752, it is recorded that the Emperor and aristocracy joined in the performance of various songs and dances, such as gosechi, kumemai, tatefushi and hōko. Bugaku as it is performed today has the categories of plain dance (bun-no-mai), warrior dance (bu-no-mai), running dance (hashirimono)and the children's dance (dōbu) (children's dance). Each piece has its special costume and some use masks and props such as halberd and staff.

— Yonei Teruyoshi
A bugaku dance performed at the Kaguraden of Shimogamo Jinja. The title of the dance is Azuma Asobi.

Kyoto, 2006

©Sakamoto Naoko

A bugaku performance at the Haiden. The title of the dance is Kochō.


©Yoshino Tōru

A bugaku performance at the Haiden. The title of the dance is Ranryō-ō (The King of Lanling).


©Yoshino Tōru

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