A test message from Kobinata.
This is a record of a series of online study sessions that took place between November 2020 and February 2021, about Kanatsu-ryu Shishi-Odori and the place it originated: Matsumori. The following is a summary of the most memorable points from interviews with Abe Yasushi, the 14th nakadachi of the Kanatsu-ryu Ishizeki Shishi-Odori and the current master of the Kanatsu-ryu Shishi-Odori, and Koiwa Shutaro, the leader of Tokyo Shishi-Odori, and traditionist of the Gyozan-ryu Maikawa Shishi-Odori.
Kanatsu-ryu Ishizeki Shishi-Odori is a folk performing art first performed in July 1779 in Ishizeki Village in the Esashi District of the historical Sendai Domain. The dance was called “Drumming Dance style Shishi-Odori,” and it spread to various parts of the domain.
The word “shishi” is an old-fashioned word that signifies “the meat of wild animals.” It is said that the dance is an offering to the wild animals whose shishi is consumed by humans as food.
Shishi refers to guardians of the gods and the Buddha, and it also refers to the deer seen as divine messengers. The Shishi Odori is performed as a representative incarnation of the gods and the Buddha where people pray for a good harvest, peace, and the banishment of demons.
During the Obon festival, Shishi-Odori is performed in memorial services called hakaekou at the homes and graves of departed souls returning for the first time. In some areas, this dance is still deeply rooted in people’s daily lives.
Among Shishi-Odori styles, Kanatsu-ryu is said to have originated in the Matsumori area of present-day Izumi Ward in Sendai, Miyagi. This fact was revealed in about 2004 after Abe Yasushi (mentioned above) analyzed the lore of the dance. In Matsumori, however, there have been no documents found which show that the Shishi-Odori was performed there.
By interacting with today’s performers and engaging in dialogue with each other, we want to try to reconnect with the land of Matsumori and with Tohoku. In addition, we hope to expand the possibilities for learning about, appreciating, and exploring Shishi-Odori from a variety of perspectives and provide an opportunity to create more fans of the folk performing arts.
Online Performing Arts Village Villagers: Chida Shoko, Oikawa Hiroka, Sowa Shotaro
You can download the PDF version of “Following the Footprints of Shishi The birthplace of Kanatsu-Ryu Ishizeki Shishi-Odori and what it means to perform it now.” from here.