Imaizumi Horse Dance
Location: Imaizumi, Kita-Akita City
Site(s) of performance: Various places in the community
Date(s): August 14 and 15
Category: Sasara and Horse Dance
The origin of the Imaizumi Horse Dance Festival is unknown. It is said to represent the famous Battle of Kawanakajima between Shingen Takeda and Kenshin Uesugi in the 16th century, but it is also said that it was created for the consolation of Lord Satake when he was relegated from Mito (present-day Ibaraki Prefecture) to Akita in the early 17th century. It is also said that it was just a pastime for the lord while he was circulating in his domain. The festival used to include three types of dances: a lion dance performed by one person, a horse dance, and a yakko dance (samurai servants’ dance). While the lion dance disappeared early, the horse dance and yakko dance have been passed down to modern times, even if only the horse dance had survived the test of time by the time the present survey was conducted. The horse dance represents the various moves of horse riding from the beginning to the end of combat. The numbers include Bukkomi (The Rush), Umahiki-Uta (Horse Pulling Song), Bazukuri (Setting the Stage), Go-Byōshi (Dance of Five Claps), Samba, Hizaori (Knee Folding), Okazaki, and Shichigosan-no-Katanori (Shoulder-Riding with 7-5-3 Claps). In Bukkomi, the troupe of horses moves forward in line, and from Bazukuri to Hizaori they confront each other face to face in two lines, and finally in Shichigosan-no-Katanori they form horizontal lines and leave the stage. The music is played by drums and Japanese flutes. The horse dance here is said to come from Hachimantai (in the former town of Aikawa).