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Miko-Kagura and Yudate-Kagura

The dance of Miko-Kagura is performed by shrine maidens (miko) in ceremonial costumes, sometimes with God-Songs, usually with bells and a fan, but sometimes with gohei (decorated wooden wand) in the hand. In Akita Prefecture, every Miko-Kagura is unique and is called by the name of the place, such as Akita Miko-Kagura and Oga Miko-Kagura. The God-Songs sung by shrine maidens, either alone or with the priests and drums, probably meant divine oracles. Most Miko-Kagura today are not of the Shinto type but of the shugen ascetic hermits’ type. Music for Kagura is usually played with big drums, Japanese flutes, and hand gongs, but in some places with shime-daiko (small high-pitched Japanese drums) and small hand drums in addition.

After the Shinto ceremony of Yudate (water boiling), the mystic ritual of augury involving stirring boiled water with a sacred broom made of straw, the Miko-Dance was often performed as a means of receiving an oracle. Miko-Kagura and other dances, such as lion dances, that were performed at the ceremony of Yudate are together called Yudate-Kagura. One interesting dance performed as part of Yudate-Kagura is Yukaji Dance, where the performer dances with the wet sacred broom. There is also a dance of hot purification, with the sprinkling of hot water into the air from that broom. Yudate-Kagura requires special ornaments on the stage, such as paper streamers to be hung from the canopy of the stage.

Ōmori-Shinzan Shishi-Dai-Gongen Dance
Takanashi Shrine Orthodox Kagura
November Kagura of Mt. Horowa
Toriko-Mai (Bird Dance)