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Izumisawa Bangaku

Location: Izumisawa, Yuzawa City
Site(s) of performance: Izumi Shrine and other places in the community
Date(s): March 16–18 in the lunar calendar
Category: Shishimai and Bangaku
The Izumisawa Bangaku is performed as an offering at the annual festival of Izumi Shrine. It is said that when the shrine was rebuilt in 1603, the bangaku was already practiced there, though the accuracy of this legend is uncertain. This bangaku seems to have been brought here by the shugen ascetics of Mt. Yudono (in present-day Yamagata Prefecture). The lion dance is said to have the power to repel evil spirits, and it was strictly prohibited to carry the lion head, which is central to the rituals of lion dance, beyond the rivers. While the lion is dancing, people hold out their towels or clothes to its mouth to have them bitten by the lion. This gesture is believed to bring them health and safety. For Izumisawa Bangaku, they no longer use Japanese flutes and play the music only with drums and hand gongs.

About Shishimai and Bangaku