Location: Shiraiwa, Kakunodate-machi, Semboku City
Site(s) of performance: Unganji Temple, Shinmei Shrine, and other places in the community.
Date(s): August 7, 13–16, and 20.
Designation: Prefecture-Designated Intangible Folkloric Cultural Property
Category: Sasara and Horse Dance
What is characteristic of the lion heads for the sasara dance in this area is that they have large horns. The origin of the sasara dance goes back to the dance performed by Lord Satake’s followers when he moved from Hitachi to Akita in 1602. The player of sasara (a wooden percussion instrument played with a rubbing stick) walked at the head of the procession to repel evil spirits and diseases with the power of music. The music itself and also the dance came to be called sasara. The local residents learned the sasara music and dance from the newly arrived followers of Lord Satake and merged them with the lion dance that they had been already practicing, which became the sasara music and dance we know today. There is a scroll of authenticity kept by the group of sasara performers, according to which their sasara started when there was a catastrophe with contagious diseases in the old days, against which the ordinary prayers and enchantments did not work; a priest from China overcame it with the wooden shape of a demonic god and with music of drums and Japanese flutes. The group of music of players organized then was, according to the scroll, the origin of the sasara music and dance at Shiraiwa.