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Cool Japan Guide / Niino-no-bon-odori (新野の盆踊り / Niino Bon Dancing)

新野の盆踊り4 「音頭」 Bon Dance in Niino, south Nagano

Niino Bon Dancing is a folk performing art handed down in Niino in Anan-cho, Nagano Prefecture. It is held in the middle of August as a part of events in the Bon season. Niino Bon dancing dates back to 1553, when the ceremony to celebrate the foundation of Zuikoin Temple was held, people from Shimoda in Izu province (present-day Shizuoka Prefecture) performed dances, which were later combined to the local dances and developed to the present form.

The Bon dancing is danced throughout the night during the 3 days of Bon Season. It is an old-fashioned one which is danced only with the Ondo (a chorus by natural voice) and without the Hayashi (musical accompaniments). When the Ondo group reads the first half of the lyrics, the participants continue the latter half while dancing. Regardless of age and gender, everyone joins the circle dances or the line dances to send off the spirits of the dead. Even a tourist can join the circle by following other people’s actions. It’s more like something you enjoy your self by dancing as you like than a performing art that you enjoy seeing.

After the lanterns are lit at dawn on the last day of the festival, everyone bring lanterns, in which spirits are enshrined, and send them off the town, singing a song of fall. When they go home, it is said that they must not look back because the spirits may come back to town.

By TS on Jun 30, 2012
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