Tsuzureko Big Drums (Tsuzureko Ōdaiko)
Location: Tsuzureko, Kita-Akita City
Site(s) of performance: Tsuzureko Shrine, the community center, and other places in the community
Date(s): July 14 and 15
Category: Taiko-Furyū and Matsuri-Bayashi
The origins of Tsuzureko Big Drums go back to sometime before 1262. Drum music and dance (taiko-furyū), a lion dance, two-color processions (Gempei Shiro-Aka Gyōretsu), and a hot-water kagura dance (yudate-kagura) started under the influence of shugen ascetic kagura. Those ritualistic dances were originally performed separately as prayers for good weather (against drought and against continued rain) and for good harvests. By the turn of the 18th century, they had been merged to the rituals of the annual festival of the shrine, and with the performance of stick dances and yakko dances (samurai servants’ dances). It is now called Tsuzureko Big Drums, but it includes not only the performance of big drums, but also a lion dance, yakko dance, stick dance, and daimyo procession. The performance of big drums is done in two teams, one team as the Tokugawa side and the other as the Toyotomi side replicating the famous battle of Sekigahara in 1600. They form combative processions under the flags and compete in the volume and quality of the big drums and lion dance performances. The volume of the performance is said to influence its effects as a prayer for good weather and good harvests.