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Iwate: Event showcasing Sanriku’s traditional folk performance art held in Iwate

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Entertainers perform “Unotori Kagura” from the village of Fudai during the Sanriku Kagaribi Bonfire Festival in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, on Sept. 24.

OFUNATO, Iwate — Aiming to pass down and promote traditional folk performance art from the Sanriku coastal area of Iwate Prefecture, seven local groups representing the area performed at the Sanriku Kagaribi Bonfire Festival held in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, on Sept. 24.

The event, held for the first time with the aim of bringing such performance art from the area together to convey its appeal and encourage people to visit the region, was part of the Sanriku International Arts Festival that began in 2014 to support reconstruction efforts after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

The audience gathered at the Ofunato Disaster Prevention Tourism Alternating Current Center was entertained by performances originating from the prefecture, including “Unotori Kagura” from the village of Fudai, which is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property; the “Toramai” tiger dance from the town of Otsuchi; and “Kita-Shichifukujin-mai” from the city of Rikuzen-Takata.

Also performed at the festival was the “Sugenokubo Shishi Odori” deer dance and the “Kenbai” sword dance of the village of Tanohata, which is characterized by the dancers wearing red and white striped cloth and the fact that the same performers do both dances.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Dancers perform the “Sugenokubo Shishi Odori” deer dance at the Sanriku Kagaribi Bonfire Festival in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, on Sept. 24.

“We’ve had fewer opportunities to perform amid the coronavirus pandemic, so we danced even more energetically after a long time,” said Katsutoshi Ono, 70, chair of a preservation society of the performing arts. “We’d be happy if this kind of opportunity motivates young people in the community to participate in the dance.”