Most of the time, I talk to you about what I already know pretty well.
But I didn’t set out to dream of Altair going around in circles in my jar forever.
I want – from a personal point of view – Altair to satisfy my curiosity.
And so, today, I’m taking the plunge – and you with me, and if you know better than me, please, teach me! – in traditional Japanese theatre.
I stumbled upon it while searching – and I rely on outside opinions for what I am going to tell.
So I learned that there was a village in Japan called Takachiho, which is at the origin of this art: Kagura.
It has been practiced since the 12th century.
If I understood correctly, with the help of age, there is both an artistic and a spiritual dimension in these representations, which are a priori very codified.
The dance of Kagura tells the myth of the sun goddess Amaterasu.
Legend has it that Amaterasu was so upset by the antics of her brother, the god of the storm, that she ran away to hide in a cave, plunging the world into darkness.
All the gods came together to find a way to get her out of the cave. Finally, another goddess, Ame-no-Uzume, performed a hilarious dance and the laughter of the gods made such a din that Amaterasu went out to see what it was all about. The world was once again illuminated by his radiance. It is said that the cave where Amaterasu took refuge is in the village of Takachiho.
The complete show consists of 33 acts and lasts all night long.
However, 4 main acts are played on a more regular basis: these are the major axes.
The first act is the Dance of Tajikarao, another goddess, who represents her when she looks for Amaterasu and tries to hear the slightest noise indicating his presence.
The second, the Dance of Uzume, is a comic dance in front of the cave to try to bring the goddess out of the sun.
The third act presents the Dance of Totori: red face and long black hair, puts all his strength to get rid of the cave door. It does not work, of course.
The fourth act proposes the Dance of Goshintai. It is the most intense of the performance. It features a couple preparing grains of rice that they offer to the gods while drinking sake. They pray for a happy marriage, fecundity and prosperity of future children; and a huge harvest. The couple mingle with the crowd and transmit the protection of the deities by embracing some spectators.
Already it’s not bad – and it makes you want to.
And on top of that, in this village, there are the craftsmen who make the masks for the representations. It seems that you can go and see them work, as long as you are respectful.
And there, it’s just splendid.
And if I have always followed, the performances in the village take place in the Shinto shrine – so there is a spiritual part in these shows.
I saw that there were lots of other performances, in other places – and so… even though I wanted to see the origin… I thought that programming a show like this one would allow us to discover a Japan that is, on the whole, totally unknown.
And at the same time, by dint of games… and manga, Japan has managed to become a very high cultural world. It is therefore a question of thinking about honoring this country and the origins of its culture.
And as its current culture is very very much appreciated by the youth – it will again be a program with interested spectators.
Featured Image : Amano Iwato Kagura / Miyazaki -I hope you don’t count on me to explain it to you. This time, I’m counting on you to explain to me.