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Kagura masks

What is Kagura?

During our stay in Joge, we had the chance to assist to a Kagura performance. But what is Kagura?

Kagura (神楽) literally means the entertainment for the gods. It is told in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, the old chronicles relating the origins of Japan, that Amaterasu, the sun goddess, had hidden in a cave after a fight with her brother. In consequence, the world, deprived of its light, became dark. So the other gods decided to perform in front of the cave to get her attention and make her come back to the outside world. This story explains the meaning behind Kagura dance and its origin.

The particularity of Joge’s Kagura

The climax of the representation was when 2 snakes appeared on the stage. The snake’s bodies are 18m long and take inspiration from traditional lanterns. Each snake is controlled by only one man, which makes it quite impressive. Indeed, physical strength is necessary to control the snake body for about 30 minutes.

Okinaza : the old wooden theater

The kagura performance was held in the Okinawa. Erected in 1925, during the Taisho area, the Okinaza is a traditional playhouse where theater performances were taken place. There are very few of those original buildings remaining in Japan. On the ground floor are the stage and seating area. A balcony is going around the theater with more seating space. However, no seats are to be seen as people were used to sitting directly on the floor, on small cushions. 

The Okinaza is a witness of the prosperity Joge once had as a town on the Silver Road. As many people were going through the town, entertainment was a necessity, and the old wooden theater is here to remind us of this area. 

Okinaza lanterns

Where to watch a performance?

If you want to see a more complete Kagura performance, you can go to our Youtube channel. You can also purchase our Travel to Joge box, to discover the best of the local souvenirs of the town such as yoshu cake, tsuchinoko manju, lucky charm, senbei, antique plates, hand made bowls…

Kagura performer
On the stage
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