Kojin Kagura Performance
The Hiba district becomes a village of kagura in late autumn. A small scale
kagura is called "Kojinsan". People put great efforts into a large scale kagura
in special ceremonial years, such as the seventh, thirteenth, and thirty-third, as
the greatest events in the district.
For large scale kagura, first a giant pan with boiling water is prepared in the
garden of a farmer's house where the first kagura is to be prepared. Next, a
Shinto priest dips bamboo branches in the hot water; he then proceeds to purify
the site by waving the branches in the air. Then the people greet the shintai (an
object of worship) from Kojin Shrine and place it on an altar.
To begin with, the music, played on Japanese drums, flutes, and gongs, is
harmonized in "Uchitate". In seven dances, including Kyokumai, Sakakimai,
and Kamimukae, several Shinto priests, wearing silk garments called "Kariginu",
dance with fans, pendant paper strips and bells.
At dusk, the celebration moves to a shrine. After the seven ritual dances are
performed again, Noh dancing begins. Based on ancient mythologies, such as
"Opening the Gate of the Celestial Rock Cave" and "Handing Over the Country",
dances appearing like stories seem to last without end.
When the sky begins to grow light, Takusen (divine revelation) starts, in
which one of the Shinto priests works himself into a trancelike state, the climax
of the ritual. People finally return the shintai to the shrine.
Large scale kagura held every thirty-three years in the same place (Photograph taken circa 1994)
The Kojin Kagura is dedicated to the Motoyama Sanpo Kojin and has implications of faith regarding ancestral souls and the repose of souls. In the past, people would establish the sanctuary in a paddy field near Kojin Shrine and keep the festival going during four days and nights. Although only Shinto priests served at that time, the civil Kagura Dayu (kagura leader) cooperatively serves with them now.