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Cool JApan / Honba-tsurusaki-odori-taikai (本場鶴崎踊大会 / The Tsurusaki Odori Festival)


The Tsurusaki Odori (Dance) Festival is held for two days in August in the town of Tsurusaki in Oita City, Oita Prefecture. During the festival period, 2,000 dancers perform elegant and gorgeous dances. It is designated as a national Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

The Tsurusaki Odori is said to have originated in the Eiroku era (1558-1569), when Otomo Sorin, the lord of Bungo province (present-day Oita Prefecture) addicted himself to wine at the expense of his responsibilities to his people. His chief retainer, Tobe Akitsura tried to dissuade him from his misconduct and hit upon the idea of inviting some of the beautiful dancers from Kyoto to perform before their lord. Lord Otomo was so impressed by the purity and delicacy of their dancing that he mended his ways completely.

Today, dancing teams in matching costumes with elaborate designs perform dances, making manifold circles. There are two versions of Tsurusaki Odori; “Sarumaru-Dayu” is a gracious slow tempo dance, while “Saemon” is a light, up-tempo dance. Their elegant and flamboyant actions together with the chanting and the music of Japanese flute and Chinese fiddle fascinate the spectators.

By TS on May 17, 2012
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