Iwami Kagura Performance by Otsu Kagura Troupe

Kagura performance

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See a traditional Japanese theatrical dance and music performance

Iwami Kagura 

Kagura is a Shinto theatrical dance and music performance dedicated to the deities of Japanese mythology. It originated from a mythical event recorded in the Kojiki, a 1,300-year-old historical record of Japan, in which the female deity of dance and the arts dances to coax the female deity of the sun out of hiding in a cave so that her light would grace the world again. The older and ritualistic form is still performed at the Imperial Court, and the more theatrical forms are staple in local communities in regions of Japan. 

Iwami Kagura is a form of kagura native to Iwami region of western Shimane Prefecture. It has about 300 years of history and is performed mostly during the annual celebrations of shrines in the autumn to dedicate it to the deities in gratitude and to pray for an abundant harvest throughout the year. The repertoire includes ritual dances and narrative plays based on myths. The magnificent dance, up-tempo music, and flamboyant costumes are captivating, and although being a traditional performing art, it continues to evolve over times.

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Orochi (The Giant Serpent)

Susano’o, the male deity of the sea and storm, descended from heaven to the headwaters of Hii River in Izumo province and saw an elderly couple and their daughter grieving. They told him seven of their daughters had already been devoured year after year by an eight-headed and eight-tailed giant serpent Orochi, and it was coming for their one last daughter Princess Inada. To save her, the deity had the serpent drink poisoned sake and after winning the fierce battle they were then happily married.

The serpent signifies a river flood and the story conveys the strife humans experience with natural disasters. The 17-meter-long serpent bodies are made of bamboo and Sekishu washi, the UNESCO-listed Japanese paper. In this most popular play of Iwami Kagura, the realistic image of undulating serpents is a great spectacle as though the world of Japanese mythology unfolds before audience’s eyes.

Otsu Kagura Troupe

The troupe was founded in 1999 as the new generation to carry on the tradition of Iwami Kagura. The troupe works on preserving and developing the tradition by making new plays as well as devoting itself to preserve the classic plays to convey the appeal of the indigenous and traditional kagura. The troupe performs 41 plays and presents around 50 performances annually, performing also at many events in other cities as well as in urban areas and overseas.

The troupe also operates Mai-no-za, the first dedicated theatre for Iwami Kagura opened in April 2019, with the aims of developing new fans and making the facility as the base of promoting the kagura not only for locals but also domestic and international visitors.



Name: Iwami Kagura Performance by Otsu Kagura Troupe
Where: Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Free Event: £0.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546