Ōbayashi Lion Dance (Ōbayashi Lion Dance)
Location: Kamimura-Shita, Kami-Koani Village
Site(s) of performance: Kumano Shrine
Date(s): August 13
Category: Sasara and Horse Dance
This dance is performed every year on August 13 at the occasion of Obon (an annual Japanese Buddhist event for commemorating one’s ancestors). As to the origin of the dance here, some say it was first performed by General Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro in the 9th century to express the vicissitudes of war. Others say it was first performed in the 17th century to entertain lower-class samurais at their lodges when the Satake clan made a long journey from Hitachi Province (present-day Ibaraki Prefecture) to Akita. The dance is now performed to pray for bumper crops at local Shinto festivals. To enter the stage, the performers make what is called a Daimyō-gyōretsu (daimyo’s procession) with flags, banners, naginata (long swords), carrying trunks, and other items of decoration, joined by dancers of shishimai (lion dance) and the yakko dance (samurai servants’ dance). The lion dance is performed by three lions, each performed by one person. Music is produced by drums and Japanese flutes.