Horei Gongen-mai

Horei Gongen-mai

A valiant Shishi-mai (lion dance) of the Yamabushi school featuring ample movements

  • Folklore Performance

  • Nishi Horei, Okirai, Sanriku-chou, Oofunato city, Iwate prefecture

About the Horei Gongen-mai

A Yamabushi school Shishi-mai said to have been transmitted to the region in the Ansei era (1855-60) after a big tsunami. The local population became increasingly anxious as the natural disaster caused successive poor harvests. It was by then the Haguro-san's Yamabushis were called in to Horei as shamans brought the Shishi-gashira as object of worship. In KESEN, Shishi-mai and Gongen-mai are synonyms: therefore the Horei Gongen-mai is also called Horei Shishi-mai.

Shishi-mai of the Yamabushi school are performed by a trio of dancers, each performing the head, the trunk, and the tail, respectively. The musical accompaniment consists of flutes and taiko drums. Small taikos sits on top of the larger taikos decorated with Sakaki (cleyera branches) on their sides and a Gohei (paper streamers) at the centre. The troupe tours each home of the district to "exorcise" the household, praying for safety, good catches, and good crops. The dance features ample vertical movements, jumping left and right, opening its jaw in a mimicry of biting.

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