Konoura-yama Shrine Twelve-Number Lion Dance
Location: Konoura, Nikaho City
Site(s) of performance: Konoura Shrine
Date(s): January 3, February 4 and 11, and August 18
This is a shihimai (lion dance) performed at the annual festival of Konoura-yama Shrine on the first day of spring (the day exactly between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, usually February 4). It mainly consists of the performance of the Lion Head Dance (also called the Twelve-Number Lion Dance), which is a kind of shishimai (lion dance). This shishimai is performed by a lion with two performers. The priest stands with his back to the altar and the lion dances facing the priest and the altar. A small table is installed between the priest and the dancing lion, on which a talisman and various offerings such as rice, dried squid, and dried seaweed are placed. While the lion is dancing, the priest holds up the talisman and the offerings, which the dancing lion bites and then turns anticlockwise. It is also characteristic of this dance that the dancing lion executes the rituals of eating hard food for health and an earless dance with its ears hidden with cloth. While the lion is dancing, the priest faces it and continues to read out celebratory words.