Folk Dances of Japan


This hand-painted picture scroll contains illustrations of eight kinds of Japanese folk dances: Sumiyoshi Odori, a dance handed down at the Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka; Oise Odori, a dance from Ise Province, where the Ise Shrine is sacred to Amaterasu, the principal female deity of Shinto; Kake Odori, in which a group of people dance toward the edge of a village or town to exorcise its evil sprits; Kokiriko Odori, in which folk dancers clack bamboo sticks in each hand; Komachi Odori, in which a group of girls in beautiful clothes dance to drum music at the Festival of the Weaver; Karako Odori, a children's dance in the Chinese fashion; Hōsai Odori, a prayer-chanting dance originated by the crazy priest, Hōsai; and Sashimono Odori, a dance with battle flags imitating those used on battlefields. The illustrations are all painted in a style that predates ukiyo-e (mostly produced from the mid-17th century), and the scroll has brief comic descriptions in verse in the upper part. The scroll was drawn in the style of a popular painter, whose name is unknown, and is historical evidence of folk dances performed presumably in the early 17th century.

Last updated: November 7, 2011