Crystallization of the Land

When mentioning folk performing arts unique to Hokkaido, we may recall the ancient dances performed by the Ainu people. However, in this installment, we will take a look at the folk performing arts introduced by Japanese people from their home villages before coming to Hokkaido, as well as the folk performing arts that were born in different regions of Hokkaido after immigrating here.


Folk Performing Arts in Hokkaido

Folk performing arts in Hokkaido include indigenous Ainu performing arts and performing arts brought over by Japanese people who once lived outside of Hokkaido. Even the folk performing arts carried out by Japanese people are not brought over to Hokkaido from other parts of Japan without undergoing changes. Rather, they have a variety of characteristics, including those that have regional commonalities in their spatial distribution and those that reflect the history of the village.


Okadama shishimai lion dance with 130 years of history in the land of the onion

In the Okadama area of Sapporo's Higashi Ward, onion fields are dispersed in between residential areas. Both onion cultivation and the shishimai lion dance have continued in this area since the beginning of the Meiji Era (1868-1912). The stirring dance and the sound of the flute have their roots in Toyama Prefecture.


Rishiri Kirin Shishimai Lion Dance 1: The Kirin Shishi Lion Awakens

At 45 degrees north latitude, let's take a look at the history of the kirin shishi lion of Rishiri Island.


Rishiri Kirin Shishimai Lion Dance 2: Folk Performing Arts Become Catalysts for History

The discovery of a mysterious shishi lion's head in Senhoshi Nagahama on Rishiri Island sparked people's interest, and in 2004, the kirin shishi lion dance was revived.


Rishiri Kirin Shishimai Lion Dance 3: Kirin Shishi Lion Rooted in the Future of the Region

The story of the revival of the Rishiri kirin shishi lion is also connected to depicting the thoughts and way of life of the people who came to this island from the mainland.


Intangible Cultural Properties are Bound to Change: Gokatte Shishimai Deer Dance of Esashi

Six of the nine intangible folk cultural properties designated by Hokkaido are located in Esashi. What is the reason that the performing arts passed down through generations in the villages have been able to survive over the years without fading away?


The Tomamae Kuma Shishimai Bear Dance Depicts the Tragedy of Pioneers and the Hope of Future Generations

The Tomamae kuma shishimai bear dance was created by present-day local people based on a real brown bear.


Shinoro Kabuki Chronicles 1902-1985

Kabuki actors are sought after for TV and movies. In fact, there were kabuki actors all over Japan. This is the story of Shinoro kabuki, one of the amateur theatricals called rural kabuki, which has been passed down through the generations in Sapporo.


Shinoro Kabuki Chronicles 1985-2022

The Shinoro kabuki troupe led by Onuma Sanshiro, also known as Hanaoka Yoshinobu, disappeared into obscurity. The residents revived it for one night only in 1985, 51 years after the troupe disbanded.


The Festival Fire, Once Again: Tengu Fire Walking in Furubira

Passing on traditional culture to the next generation is a difficult task in a society in transition. The Tengu no Hiwatari Fire-Walk Festival in Furubira has a long and intimate connection with the people who preserve the festival.


Memories of an Honorable Town: Kumaishi's Ainuma Yakko Procession

There are many traditional performing arts called yakko in southern Hokkaido. Yakumo's Kumaishi facing the Sea of Japan is home to Ainuma yakko, a performing art that has continued for more than 160 years, connecting the people of this region over time.