Niino Bon Odori - Japanese folk dancing a cappella

I wrote about Bon-odori (Japanese folk dancing) in Hida Takayama last month.

Let us introduce another one this time.
Niino is a small village in the mountain of South Nagano Prefecture.
In the obon period (August 16 , I went to the village to join their local bon-odori, which is one of the most traditional dancing style and has been designated as a nation's intangible folklore cultural asset.

The dance takes place for 3 straight nights from the 14th of August every year.
It starts around 9PM and and is closed the next mourning. We can enjoy dancing all nightlong.

There are 7 obon songs for this village. Most of them are quite simple and easy to dance. What is distinguishing to the ordinary Japanese bon-odori, they don't use any instrumental and dance only with the callers' a cappella songs. This makes the atmosphere of the event kind of sacred and polished.

Especially, on the last part of the event on the last night (the night of 16th to the mourning of 17th), we have a special bon song and dance just before the village people have a religious ceremony at the tepple to send the spirit of their new deceadeds (who passed away with in one year)back to the sky.

The deceaded's families and relatives try to approach to the temple but young people try to block the passage because when the they get to the temple and start the sending ceremony, the pleasant dance time will come to the end. Some of the dancing circles by the Young guys get in their way. The deceaded side breaks down the circles one by one and arrives at the temple in the end ....

It was a moving scene for me.
I felt like I was just watching the succession of one of the most important traditons, many of which are disapering for lack of successors.

If you are interested in Niino Bon-odori, please check the website for the details:


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