(Iwami Kagura performed at a local festival)
Kagura, literally “god-entertainment,” refers to forms of sacred music and dance, similar to those of Nohgaku (refer to p.27), that are performed officially at Shinto shrines during rituals. Once strictly a ceremonial art derived from kamigakari (“oracular divination”) and chinkon (“spirit pacification,”) it has evolved in many directions over the span of a millennium. In Iwami-style kagura shown here, the kagura dances serve a number of purposes, including celebration of auspicious days and the reenactment of God’s folktales. As it has become more of a secular folk entertainment and less of a formal religious ritual, it can be understood and enjoyed as a popular art even by children, and in Shimane Prefecture performances are often held in the public hall of a village.