Traditional Performing Arts
Many of the unique festivals you can see in Oki were once celebrated in various places around Japan. These old-fashioned festivals are still celebrated today in each region of the Oki Islands.
This festival is celebrated every June 5 at Tamawakasu-mikoto Shrine, which is the main general shrine of the Oki Islands and the location of the former provincial capital. During the festival the ‘Uma-ire Shinji’ takes place. During this majestic event, sacred horses carrying the deities from eight different areas around Dōgo Island gallop through the shrine gates, and up to the main shrine building. It is thought that this religious festival originated in the traditional practice for representatives from all villages around the Oki Islands to visit the provincial capital.
Renge-e-mai is a series of dances that were popular in the imperial court during in the Nara Period (710 – 794). It is thought to be of Southeast Asian origin, and is characterized by the vibrant masks worn by the performers.
This festival was introduced during the Kamakura Period (1185 – 1333) and is based on the philosophy of onmyoudou, or ‘the way of yin yang’. The festival ceremonies revolve around the meeting of the deities of the shrine of the sun and the shrine of the moon. The deities meet in the festival grounds and circle it three and a half times. The festival conveys knowledge of the almanac that was very advanced at the time.
There are many different styles of kagura, which are Shinto ceremonial dances. Among the most famous is Izumo Kagura, in which the giant eight-headed, eight-tailed serpent Yamato-no-orochi is vanquished. There are also many different varieties of kagura performed in Oki. Oki Kagura was passed down through the generations by specialist performers called sha-ke. As it is performed as a religious ceremony, the role of miko (shrine maidens) is a characteristic feature.