Finally, I have a chance to write about our proud ritual, Hagi Kagura. Hagi is one of five villages of Gokanosho. It’s a small populated village with 7 houses and only 11 residents, where Heike-so and Sakura-so Minshuku accommodations are located. We celebrated a Shinto festival on 11 April to say a prayer to the gods of mountain thanking for bringing peace to our life and for the safety of our every day job by performing sacred dances. The dances is said to have been handed down from Takachiho and one of the neighbouring villages Shiiba in the 17th century, so we can find some similarities between those dances. I am also a member of Hagi Kagura even though I am not a resident of Hagi village, the dancer s had to be the residents of Hagi originally. However, due to lack of residents, they asked me to join in this and I was glad to be part of them. I dance and play a drum as well depending on the dance. in this ceremony, a Shinto priest say a prayer to the gods first and we offer sacred branches of “Kami Sakaki” , then we are ready to show our dances to the gods. Ladies also perform the dances but we need to close the door to the main building where a goddess i sitting, because we believe she might feel jealous seeing ladies dancing. After the ceremony, we hold a party with all participants who are fans and friends of Gokanosho.
And please watch the digest of the Hagi Kagura as the following footage.
Ninja, you might know they existed back in history of Japan.Yes, they are gone after “Meiji restoration” happened in the late 19th century, along with the end of Samurai’s era. But their techniques have been passed on by the descendants to Ninja and even Ninja lovers up until today! Here at Hinokuniya (火之国屋), a friend of mine runs a very unique and interesting business, “Ninja Activity”, instructiong a variety of Ninja techniques such as “Fire power”, “Shuriken (Ninja star) throwing”, “Blowgun” and so on which are modified to be safer version to ensure your safety. I am also one of the instructors here. Click on the link and see what the Hinokuniya Ninja Activity is like.
Happy New year!
Hope you all had great New Year days. In Japan, the period of the first three days of January is called “San ga nichi”, happy holidays. Most of stores used to take three days off 30 years ago, but nowadays many of them are open and many customers go for shopping. I miss those days.
On the 1st Jan., we went up to “Minegoshi Pass”, one of the highest passes in Gokanosho, to admire the first sunrise of the year which is considered very happy. We enjoyed making rice cakes in a traditional way (totally hand made!), hanging out with a bunch of neighbours and relatives under the lighting devices that we brought up until the sun shows up.
Finally, the first sun rises up. We make a wish towards the sun in Shinto way (it doesn’t matter if you are not a Shinto believer.), hoping for the better days through the year. We say “The whole year’s plans are (to be) made on New Year’s Day / New Year’s Day is the key to the whole year” in Japan.