Tokyobling's Blog

Shishi – Yasukuni Shrine

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on January 2, 2013

The famous lion dance can be seen all over Asia, and of course also here in Japan. At most festivals there is a group of lion heads dancers, “shishi-gashira”, and they interact with the audience before or after the performance by biting the heads of people, something which is supposed to bring good luck and courage! It’s so much fun to watch how different people react to having their head chewed on by a giant wooden lion’s head. Some kids are really stoic about it while others cry, kick and scream to get out of it! I saw this duo perform for the visitors to the New Year’s celebration at Yasukuni Shrine.

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9 Responses

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  1. Emma Reese said, on January 2, 2013 at 4:58 am

    I didn’t know there was a head-biting tradition by the shish! It must be super scary for little children.

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    • tokyobling said, on January 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Oh, I thought it was one of the most common traditions for kids in Japan! (^-^) I see it all the time… I wonder how I would have reacted?!

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  2. Illumi Arzia said, on January 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Looks so fun.
    Really like it.

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  3. Zainab Khawaja said, on January 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    What is the significance of the lion in Asian culture, or specifically in Japanese culture?
    In the subcontinent, the tiger has traditionally been more prominent. One of Pakistan’s ex-prime ministers, however, does own six privately-caged lions.

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    • tokyobling said, on January 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Hi Zainab! I wouldn’t really know, there are neither tigers nor lions in Japan, and there never were. It is probably an imported symbol from China… (^-^;)

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  4. Mervyn said, on September 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Hello!
    Any idea when will this “lion dance event” be held at Yasukuni Shrine specifically? 1st or 2nd day of the new year? Intending to head over there this coming dec-jan 🙂

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    • tokyobling said, on September 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      Hi! Thanks for the comment Mervyn! I don’t think that they are there every year, but usually the new year festivities take place from late on the 31st of December to sundown the 4th or 5th. Try to be there at midnight for one of the best traditional new year’s celebrations in Tokyo!

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