Kotoura Kumano Shrine Lion Head Twelve-Number
Location: Hirasawa, Nikaho City
Site(s) of performance: Kumano Shrine and other places in the community
Date(s): January 3 and 1st Sunday of August
The performance mainly consists of the performance of the Lion Head Dance (also called the Twelve-Number Lion Dance), a kind of shishimai (lion dances). The performers go around the community and offer the dance of prayer at individual houses. This shishimai is performed by a lion with two performers. The priest stands with the altar to his back and the lion dances facing the priest and the altar. A small table is installed between the priest and the dancing lion, on which a talisman and various offerings such as rice, dried squid, and dried seaweed are placed. While the lion is dancing, the priest holds up the talisman and the offerings, which the dancing lion bites and then turns anticlockwise. It is also characteristic of this dance that the dancing lion executes the rituals of eating hard food for health and an earless dance with its ears hidden with cloth. While the lion is dancing, the priest faces it and continues to read out celebratory words. The community of Kotoura learned this shishimai from that of Kotaki (former Kisakata Town) in 1880. The lion of Kotoura is a male lion and dances with a sword.