Sekiguchi Sasara Dance
Location: Sekiguchi, Yuzawa City
Site(s) of performance: Hachiman Shrine and other places in the community
Date(s): September 16
Designation: City-Designated Intangible Folkloric Cultural Property
Category: Sasara and Horse Dance
In the early 9th century, General Sakanoue Tamuramaro conducted a northern campaign upon the order of Emperor Kanmu and defeated King Akuro of the barbarians. On his way northward, he built Gongendō Temple on Mt. East-Chōkai for Yakushi Buddha, enshrined a statue of the mythical kirin creature, and prayed for victory. After his success in defeating the enemy, General Sakanoue celebrated by himself performing a dance of the kirin with a kirin head. The sasara dance here is in the tradition of the three-lion dance widely practiced in this area, but, because of its connection with General Sakanoue’s story, the sasara dance of Sekiguchi is performed with five kirins. In addition to the leading male kirin, two male kirins and two female kirins dance together. Despite its name, there is no sasara as a musical instrument used in this performance. Music is played with shime-daiko (small high-pitched Japanese drums), Japanese flutes, and hand cymbals.