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Dengaku and Ta-Asobi

Dengaku was originally a category of music performance, but developed as a music-dance performance in the 10th or 11th century in such agricultural religious rituals as the ōtaue (great rice planting ceremony). Its essence is of course to pray for a good harvest. Today, Dengaku is practiced sometimes as a salon entertainment and sometimes for Shinto festivals, but in either way we find few of them in Akita Prefecture. Dengaku is also performed for fertility at the festival after rice-planting or at marriage ceremonies.

Ta-Asobi is a highly religious ritual to pray for a good rice harvest. Originally for the rituals before the rice paddy preparation in spring, it developed to an artistic performance. Its origin and development are distinctly different from those of Dengaku. While the rice-planting dance, for example, of Dengaku is performed very much as entertainment, Ta-Asobi represents the entire process of rice production more in a ritualistic way and each movement of the hands and feet has symbolic meaning.

Obonai Rice-Cropping Dance