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Sasara and Horse Dance (Koma-Odori)

Sasara is a three-lion dance with one performer for each lion. Each performer wears a lion head, beats a small drum held at his waist, and jumps up and down energetically. Its music (hayashi) is played by big drums, Japanese flutes, and songs. Sasara is also the name for a musical instrument, Binzasara to be precise, an instrument of wooden plates strung together with a cotton cord. The Sasara dance is so called because the clown, Kakkiri or Zazzaka, often dances together with the three lions, playing the Sasara instrument. The procession of Sasara dances in the Semboku area often includes Ōsei and Ōji (also known as Fukurokuju, or the god of happiness, wealth, and longevity) with Chinese fans and other gorgeous decorations such as feathered spears and lacquered travel chests for carrying clothes. While Sasara is a kind of lion dance, it is mixed with a variety of performing arts such as Bōjutsu (martial art of stick fighting) and a yakko dance (samurai servants’ dance). Many Sasara festivals have a secret scroll of authenticity and many of them tell that their origin goes back to the early 17th-century when Lord Satake made a long journey with his followers to Akita. The Sasara dance is variably called the Lion Dance, Sasara-Mai, or Sasara-Odori in Japanese.

Horse Dance (Koma Odori)
The horse dance (Koma Odori) is a dance of horse-riding samurai. Holding the reins, performers hop and jump as if riding on a horse. The dance numbers in this category include Samba-Sō and Tsugai-Koma (horse pair) and come with horse songs (Mago-Uta). Its music is played by drums and Japanese flutes. The horse dance is rarely performed alone. In the same way as Sasara is often performed with yakko dance, Bōjutsu, and Manzai, the horse dance is often performed with folkloric performance arts of the Furyū category. The horse cance is not performed at all in the Southern part of Akita prefecture, suggesting that this type of dance had religious meanings for people in horse-breeding areas. Horse dances are also seen in the Nambu area (parts of present-day Aomori and Iwate Prefectures) and their relations with the horse dances in Akita require further research.

Shitakawara Horse Dance
Ōbayashi Lion Dance (Ōbayashi Lion Dance)
Imaizumi Horse Dance
Izumi-Yōka Sasara
Hadachi Sasara (of Mitane Town)
Takko Sasara
Hadachi Sasara (of Noshiro City)
Torigata Lion Dance (Torigata Lion Dance)
Tsurugata Sasara
Nibuna Sasara Dance
Komagata Lion Dance
Kosawada Horse Dance
Yonaizawa Kyōyūkai Lion Dance
Honjō Lion Dance
Ani-Maeda Lion Dance
Lion Dance (of Urata)
Arase Lion Dance
Kawaguchi Lion Dance
Shirasawa Lion Dance
Yamada Lion Dance
Jōshū-Kudaru Lion Dance
Jōshū-Kudaru Ontomo Sasara
Kiriishi Sasara Dance
Sumomotai Horse Dance
Niageba Bon Dance
Kogake Sasara Dance
Fujikoto-Kamiwaka Good Harvest Dance
Fujikoto-Shimo Good Harvest Dance
Kamisugi Daimyo Procession
Hitachinai Lion Dance
Umenai Horse Dance
Ishikawa Horse Dance
Maeyama Folkloric Performance Art
Kayakusa Lion Dance
Hirusawa Lion Dance
Wada Sasara
Okashinai Lion Dance
Kōya Lion Dance
Hikiji-Machi Lion Dance
Niiseki Sasara
Uchikawa Kodomo Sasara
Horiminai Sasara
Yokosawa Sasara
Matsubara Lion Dance
Dai-Kantō Chinese Lion Dance
Nagano Sasara
Koyamada Sasara
Sekiguchi Sasara Dance
Kanezawa Sasara Dance
Kawai Horse Dance and Yakko Dance
Higashi-Nagano Sasara
Tozawa Sasara
Kami-Funagi Horse Dance
Kunimi Sasara
Hirokunai Sasara
Umezawa Sasara
Maegō Shishiko Dance
Bōzawa Lion Dance
Dōnokuchi Sasara
Shitagawara Sasara
Kasuda Lion Dance
Satake-Yamaya Sasara
Shiraiwa Sasara
Hiraoka Lion Dance