During the day , several traditional live performances were taking place at a small stage
( against a background of Hokusai's beautiful ' Fukugawa Mannenbashi Shita' print).
The first one I saw, was a Shishi-mai ( Lion-dance) by the group Arigato Shishi , which is performed at shrine festivals and New Year , to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck, bountiful harvests, etc..
The Lion , portrayed by a very flexible actor wearing a shishi-gashira, or lion's head,
is accompanied by a flute player and a drummer and performs all sorts of acrobatic moves on stage.
( click on the pictures for a large version )
At one point during the dance the Lion apparently seems to settle down for a nap
and it takes quite a bit of serious clapping with the fan ( by the flute player , who has donned a mask)
and hefty drumming to get the Lion to wake up again.
Near the end of the dance , the Lion comes into the audience and 'bites' people on the head,
which is supposed to bring you luck all year long. I visited this performance twice, but no luck for me this year : I didn't get 'bitten'.
Next was a traditional Nihon Buyo ( Japanese dance ), performed by Nakagawa Chie, who's been studying folk and traditional dance from an early age, performing around the world.
With no more than a kimono and a fan , she managed to entertain me thoroughly for the entire period of the dance. It was quite fascinating !
A long succession of lots of very elegant moves.
Making good use of the long sleeves on her beautiful kimono.
The ensemble "Hibiki" performed several traditional pieces of Japanese music. A Sankyoku is made up of a koto , a shamisen (a three-stringed lute) , played by Arisawa, Shino and the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) played by Coxall, Michael . This ensemble has been together since 2003.
You can listen to a koto here, played by Okuda, Satoshi (Utanoichi).
You didn't need to go up to the stage to see whether Hirota Joji & the Taiko drummers were performing. You could hear them from outside !
As you can see the women got to beat the big drum too and I can tell you they didn't hit it with any less enthusiasm or power as the men!
It was beautiful to see how everybody kept beating perfectly synchronized , even when the drumsticks went high up.
:) The female drummers smiled the whole time while the young men frowned and Hirota-sama kept a watchful eye on his pupils from the back.
"Woooh! " At the end of the performance , the sticks go up.
Next time : From Old Japan to New Japan : Shodo , Sado and Robots.