Matsumae Kagura in buckwheat fields
The Matsumae Kagura (sacred Shinto dance), which is a designated important intangible folk-cultural property of Japan, was held in a buckwheat field in Sengen in the town of Fukushima in the Oshima region of southern Hokkaido on August 29. The elegant dance was performed by members of the town’s Matsumae Kagura Preservation Society, amid blooming white buckwheat flowers.
The ‘Sengen buckwheat-flower viewing gathering’ is organized each year by the town’s Sengen District Revitalization Executive Committee and the Sengen Soba Producers Association in the hope of encouraging an abundant, disease-free harvest. Last year’s event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and this year it was held for the first time in two years, with only the producers and other related parties present.
A special stage was set up in a buckwheat field with an area of approximately 3 hectares, surrounded by a Japanese cedar forest at the foot of Mt. Daisengendake. The town’s Matsumae Kagura Preservation Society staged six performances, including the ‘Okina-mai’ dance performed by masked dancers, and the ‘Yaotome-mai’ dance performed by two shrine maidens known as ‘miko’.
Ms. Nishida, a third-grade pupil at Fukushima Junior High School, who served as one of the ‘miko’, smiled as she explained, “I was worried as to whether or not I could dance due to the coronavirus, but I’m glad I was able to do it without any problems.” The chair of the executive committee said, “I hope that the coronavirus will be brought under control as soon as possible, and that the crops will be abundant.”
Sengen in the town of Fukushima
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