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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Performing Arts
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 (yo-in). In Japan, in the Man'yōshū, it was used to express the concept elegance (miyabi). In the medieval period it's pronunciation was compressed to furyū, and it acquired a wide range of meanings. At the end of the Heian period at events such as the plague deity festival (ekijinsai – a festival to ward off plague by entertaining the associated deity) and the Grand Dengaku of 1096, processions of people carrying furyū umbrellas and wearing colorful garments paraded through the capital. This became associated with extravagant fashionableness, and they were often banned. The Gion Festival floats (dashi) and tower structures (yamahoko) are particularly famous examples of the tukurimono associated with these festivals. Dance with such costumes were called furyū odori, and the word furyū came to refer mainly to the dance itself. It spread to regional folk performances such as Bon-odori and many other types. They are still practiced in the form of shishimai, taiko-odori and ko-uta odori. In some regions these are called fūryū (written Ω) and processions of dancing people wind their way through the town. Sometimes the characters for falling rain are used, showing a folk tradition of a dance (amagoi). Furyū also came to mean a type of drama: En-nen furyū, great and small furyū, and Kyōgen furyū. Furthermore, Kabuki had its origins in nenbutsu furyū.

— Yonei Teruyoshi
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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