Location: Nishimonai, Ugo Town
Site(s) of performance: Nishimonai-Honchō Street
Date(s): August 16–18
Designation: State-Designated Important Intangible Folkloric Cultural Property
Category: Bon Dance
According to the oldest records available of dancing at Nishimonai, sometime during the Shōō period (1288–1292), when the priest Genshin established Zaō Gogen Temple (present-day Mitake Shrine), the dance was performed in the premises of the temple to pray for bumper crops. As for the origin of the Bon dance here, one theory advanced is that after the lord of Yashima, Ōi Gorō Mitsumasa, lost in battle and committed seppuku in Nishimonai Castle in 1593, his men and women performed the Bon dance to appease his soul, which became the origin of the Nishimonai Bon Dance. Another theory says that after Nishimonai Castle was destroyed by the Mogami clan’s army in 1601, quite a few warriors settled in at Horimawari and Maegō near the ruins of the castle and performed the Bon dance to console themselves. The striking feature of the Nishimonai Bon Dance is that female dancers wear either a black hood covering the face except the eyes or a narrow straw hat that hides their faces almost entirely.
About Bon Dance