Hitachinai Lion Dance
Location: Ani-Hitachinai, Kita-Akita City
Site(s) of performance: Hitachinai Shrine and the Hitachinai Community Cemetery
Date(s): August 14
Designation: City-Designated Intangible Folkloric Cultural Property
Category: Sasara and Horse Dance
In the early 17th century, when Lord Satake was reassigned from Hitachi-Ōta (present-day Ibaraki Prefecture) to the domain of Akita, lower-class samurais performed a lion dance to entertain the suite and lift morale during the long journey northward. That dance is said to be the origin of the variety of lion dances in Akita, including the one at Hitachinai. Despite the name of lion dance, it includes a daimyo’s procession, stick dance, and horse dance in addition to the lion dance in the strict sense. The dance was learned from Urata (former Moriyoshi Town) in 1883. In addition, an expert came from Katsurase (former Moriyoshi Town) and villagers also learned from the Tozawa Sasara Dance (of former Nishiki Village), to establish today’s Hitachinai Lion Dance. One thing remarkable at Hitachinai is that the lion dance at Hitachinai is a dance of six lions, not three.