Ani-Maeda Lion Dance
Location: Ani-Maeda, Kita-Akita City
Site(s) of performance: Various places in the community
Date(s): August 13
Designation: Prefecture-Designated Intangible Cultural Property
Category: Sasara and Horse Dance
The Ani-Maeda Shishi-Dance (Ani-Maeda Lion Dance) is said to originate from the dances that were played during the journey of Lord Satake Yoshinobu from Mito (present-day Ibaraki prefecture) to Akita in 1602, when he was reassigned to the domain in Akita. The dances were performed to entertain the lord and to cheer up his party. It is also said that Lord Satake Yoshimasa, Yoshinobu’s descendant, was very pleased by this dance when he visited the Ani region about 200 years later. The lively and gorgeously decorated parade of dancers is believed to represent the Daimyo and his subordinates’ processions to and from Edo (present-day Tokyo) that were practiced during the Edo period. The parade is called ‘Bukkomi’ or ‘Tori.’ The music (called Hayashi) consists of drums and Japanese flutes only. The dances wish for a good harvest and drive off ill-luck, and comprise the Shishi-Odori (lion dance), yakko dance (samurai servants’ dance), horse dance, stick dance, Manzai (celebratory speech performance), Kagura, and so on. The dance, by two male lions and one female lion, represents love affairs among the lions and also symbolizes bumper crops.