Hitoichi Bon Dance
Location: Hitoichi, Hachirogata Town
Site(s) of performance: On the street in Kamicho, Hitoichi, Hachirogata Town
Date(s): August 18–20
Designation: Prefecture-Designated Intangible Folkloric Cultural Property
Category: Bon Dance
The Hitoichi Bon Dance Festival is held on August 18–20 in the evenings on the street at the center of the Hitoichi District of former Hitoichi Town (now part of Hachirogata Town). People here do not set up a wooden scaffold or a bonfire to serve as the center of the dancing circle, even though they dance in a circle (or rather in an oval) in any case. The absence of a scaffold or bonfire is believed to reflect the old way of organizing a Bon dance. Some say that the origin of the Bon dance here goes back to the Muromachi era (1336–1573), but there is no substantiation of that theory. The Bon dance here is practiced at the time of Obon, but the lyrics of the songs there suggest that it was originally a harvest dance (a dance for good harvests) rather than a Bon dance (a dance to appease the spirits of the ancestors on the days of Obon, when those spirits come back temporarily). Their lyrics include such phrases as ‘Dance and sing for good fish catch’ or ‘Dance for rich harvests.’ Similar kinds of Bon dance are also seen in a relatively large area extending from Akita City to the Noshiro and Yamamoto areas.
About Bon Dance