Hiroshima Kagura Japan
photograph Kagura Japan

Kagura in the Geihoku area of Hiroshima Prefecture
 In ancient times, Izumo prospered as a cultural and industrial center. Izumo Kagura, performed as an agricultural and Shinto ritual, was introduced to its western neighbor, Iwami.
 In Iwami, Kagura added myths and stories of Kojiki (the Record of Ancient Matters) and Nihonshoki (the Chronicle of Japan) and developed its own unique style. Kagura was originally meant to entertain the gods, but Iwami Kagura was unique because performers and spectators also enjoyed it.
 Iwami Kagura spread to the Geihoku area in the north of Hiroshima Prefecture at the end of the Edo period (1603-1867). Kagura was mainly performed by Shinto priests, but in the Meiji era (1868-1912), shrine parishioners came to perform Kagura. With this, more entertaining repertoires became the mainstream of Kagura.
 After the end of World War II in 1945, Kagura added various stories from the classical Japanese arts of Noh and Kabuki. It also added to the repertoire from the legends from different parts of Japan.
 When Kagura contests were inaugurated to judge the performers’ spirits and skills, Kagura developed its dramatic and artistic aspects, which were evaluated at these events.
 At the same time, there was a tendency for Kagura groups in different communities to develop their own unique features by modifying traditional Kagura into a theatrical performing art different from Noh or Kabuki.
 Kagura in the Geihoku area of Hiroshima Prefecture now has a repertoire of more than 70 performances: including agricultural rituals; mythologies and stories of the nation-building of ancient Japan (Yamato); legends and historical stories of the Heian period (794-c.1185); and original stories that are still being added by different Kagura groups.
 There are more than 100 Kagura groups in the Geihoku area. Kagura is now a popular youth culture, transcending the old boundaries of farming and mountain villages, and contributing to the healthy mental and physical growth of new generations. In this way, a new, but traditional, Japanese culture is being developed in the form of Kagura.
 In Hiroshima Prefecture, there are also other lines of Kagura with different roots, including Aki Juni Jingi, Hiba Kojin Kagura and Bingo Kagura.

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agura Japan A Photograph Collection
[Section I: Iwami Kagura]
[Section II: The Origins of Kagura]
[Section III: Dancing Maidens]
[Section IV: Life, Breath, Essence]
[Section V: Kagura Costumes]
[Section VI: Props]
[Section VII: Kagura Appreciation]
[Section VIII: Kagura in Northern Hiroshima Prefecture]

Opening on July 21, 2006

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