~ Enjoying the Most out of Kagura by Taizo Kobayashi, a Kagura Mask Craftman ~
Iwami Kagura used to be a dance performance to entertain Shinto gods and show gratitude for the year’s harvest always performed by local people. This tradition remains today and is loved and enjoyed by all ages. Behind the fascination of the Kagura performances, there is a Kagura mask craftsman and Kagura performer called Taizo Kobayashi who kept the tradition and custom of the dance, by keeping and providing the masks for the performances. In this interview, we asked him about the ways to enjoy watching Iwami Kagura performances.
- How to Enjoy Iwami Kagura -
Mr. Kobayashi starts off by saying “During Kagura performance, I would like the audience to pay particular attention to the storyline in addition to the rhythm, dance performance, and gorgeous costumes”.
He continues “There are 30 variety of storylines, and none of them is the same; stories to welcome and entertain the Shinto gods and stories from the oldest history book of Japan ‘Kojiki’. To fully enjoy the show, I recommend you to read the storyline beforehand. You will have a deeper understanding of the story which makes you more receptive to feeling its history, culture, and taste of the performances”.
You can visit the following English website, where they introduce each program of Iwami Kagura.
- Not Only Performances -
He says “the best way to enjoy Iwami Kagura is not only to see it but to actually interact with the performers after the show. If you have a chance to talk to them, please do so. You will find the art of Iwami Kagura in these performers”, and continues “They have their every day works but frequently attend practices to perform in the Kagura show. I believe that their lives are a part of Kagura’s attraction, so by talking to them and knowing Kagura’s history, local culture, and lifestyles, you will find Kagura more attractive and appealing. Our efforts pay off if we are able to communicate with you, sharing our values and yours, and learning about each other”.
< Nao-rai >
Kobayashi’s “Iwami Kagura Yunotsu Mikoshi Group” organizes “Nao-rai”, an after party where you can interact with performers while enjoying light local food and sake.
< Kobayashi Kobo >
Kobayashi Kobo (crafting factory) in Shimane Prefecture, is where the Kagura masks are made. The local crafting method is handed down from generation to generation. It is also popular as a gift and souvenir today.
Tengu and Han’nya masks are good for avoiding bad luck, Susano and Ebisu masks are for good lucks, and the Shiro-kitsune mask is for business opportunities. There are more masks available and you can enjoy choosing your favorite mask to take with you.
The masks come with a frame board, so you can display it in your home.
Address: 2, 308, イ(Japanese letter), kohama, Yunotsu-cho, Ohta-shi, Shimane Prefecture, 699-2511