Traditional Katsusaka Kagura Music & Dance
The Katsusaka district of Tenryuu, nestled in the mountains of northern Hamamatsu, is home to the Hachiman and Shimizu Shrines – known to be the sites of worship for the god of reproduction and child-raising. In late October, local residents gather together to celebrate the traditional Katsusaka Kagura at a festival held at these shrines. It is one of Japan’s performing arts and is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset by Hamamatsu City. In this edition of the newsletter, we will tell you all about this historic tradition.
The Katsusaka Kagura is a festival which boasts a history of over 360 years and includes two kinds of dances: a fantastical lion dance to an enchanting chorus of flutes and drums in the front yards of Hachiman Shrine and Shimizu Shrine, and a dancing march in which they travel between the shrines.
The striking sight of the pair of dancers, each adorned with a lion’s head and distinctive peony-patterned red kimono, is not something that the attendees are sure to forget.
The Katsusaka Kagura is an opportunity for the residents to pray for a bountiful grain harvest, and also ensure the prosperity and good fortune of their children. The festival is also especially popular amongst couples who wish to start a family of their own, since it is said to be blessed with the power of fertility.
Whilst the festival has long come to be a beloved tradition, hosting it has proven difficult in recent years due to the aging and depopulation of the local area, as well as the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, thanks to the tireless endeavors of a volunteer group of university students working to preserve the local culture, the Katsusaka Kagura will be held for the first time in four years. We hope that the remarkable efforts of these young people will ensure the tradition stays a part of our local culture for many, many years to come.