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Lion Kagura (Shishi-Kagura)

Lion Kagura (Shishi-Kagura)
Lion Kagura (Shishi-Kagura) is a Shinto-related lion dance that is practiced, in Akita Prefecture, in the Ogachi, Hiraka, and Semboku areas by Shinto priests and other Kagura performers. To distinguish Shishi-Kagura from other types of lion dances, it is sometimes called Jatō-Kagura (Snake-Head Kagura Dance) or Shishimai-Kagura (Lion Dance-Kagura Dance). When it is performed as an offering at the shrines, Shishi-Kagura is performed sometimes with Yudate-Kagura (Hot Water Kagura Dance), but when it is performed at individual houses in the community, it is always performed without Yudate-Kagura. The performance of Shishi-Kagura always includes such Kagura Dance numbers as the Kotobuki Dance (Dance of Celebration) and Yamanokami Dance (Dance of Mountain Gods) in addition to lion dances. Among the lion dances of Shishi-Kagura, we have such dance numbers as Prayer Lion Dance, Haya-Lion Dance, and some others. For most of them, the lion dance includes the moves of the lion body as expands very large (with its body fabric held high), the lion head crawling low on the floor, and the lion mouth biting the air excitedly to the rhythm of the music. The lion generally moves fast. While the lion is dancing, the spectators hold out hand towels and other cloths to the mouth of the lion. It is believed that such items bitten by the lion will protect them against injuries and illnesses.

Lion Dai-Gongen Dance (Shishi-Dai-Gongen-Mai)
Shishi-Dai-Gongen-Mai is another kind of Shinto-related lion dance that is practiced, in Akita Prefecture, in the Kazuno area, which was part of the Nambu Domain in the Edo era. As it is performed with the Yudate-Kagura (Hot Water Kagura Dance), it may be considered a Yudate Kagura-related lion dance. Before performing the lion dance, the performer dances maskless with tasuki (a clothing item), gohei (decorated wooden wands), a bell, a fan, and/or a sword. The role of the lion is performed by two performers. The main performer moves the head and the other holds the body fabric. After the main part of the lion dance, they also perform the Kome-Kumi Dance (Rice-Scooping Dance), where the lion scoops up rice from a bucket. After the lion dances, Yudate (Hot Water) rituals are performed. Shishi-Dai-Gongen-Mai has many religious elements of shugen or shugendo and the lion head itself is revered as a deity. Music is usually played with a big drum, Japanese flutes, and gongs.

Kushi Shrine Lion Head Dance (Hatsu-uma Rituals)
Konoura-yama Shrine Twelve-Number Lion Dance
Kushi Shrine Okashira Rituals
Dewa Shrine Gongen Dance
Hakusan Shrine Lion Dance
Izusan Shrine Lion Kagura
Snake-Head Kagura of Karamatsu Shrine
Gohōtō (Noble Treasure Head)
Atago Shrine Kagura Dance
Akiba Shishi
Mitsumori-Yakushi Shrine Lion Head Rituals
Suzu Torimori Shrine Okashira Rituals
Hirasawa Hachiman Shrine Okashira Rituals
Hirasawa Akiba Shrine Okashira Rituals
Kotoura Kumano Shrine Lion Head Twelve-Number
Kushi Shrine Lion Head Dance
Hata Inari Shrine Shishimai
Sankō-Kumano Shrine Shishimai