Tokyobling's Blog

Lion Dance and Hayashi – Kanda Myojin Hatsumode

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on January 9, 2014

At last week’s Hatsumode event in Tokyo’s Kanda Myoijin (Kanda Shrine) I saw this hayashi group, a form of music and simple performances that are common in festivals and at shrines, and their Shishinomai, or Lion Dancer. During my years in Japan I must have seen a hundred or so of various lion dancers but this man was by far the best I have seen so far. Of course it is impossible to tell through photos alone, but his dancing, acting and interaction with the crowd was so far above anything else I have ever seen that I stood there with my jaw dropped and forgot all about video taping it. Unfortunately I couldn’t find out the name of the performer or even the troupe, but even after dancing he came back to join in the drummer and also instructing some of the newer members. Hayashi drumming is quite fast and the rhythm is complicated so they rotate the members on stage quite often, which is good because some troupes play continuously from morning to late night.

During festivals you will almost always hear Hayashi music, some festivals use recordings and loudspeakers, others use only live musicians or a combination or live and recorded music. Either way, a Japanese festival does not feel complete without the constant hayashi music in the background. The music itself is more important than the performance. In some festivals that I have visited the performers were hardly even visible, tucked away on a small stage to the side raised so high that you can hardly see anything. Use the tags to find other posts I have written about Hayashi!











2 Responses

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  1. Dina Farmer said, on January 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Ahhh that is amazing that you such a shot of how much technology is in our lives!!! It was kind of said to see the musicians hardly have anyone stop and listen.


    • tokyobling said, on January 29, 2014 at 4:37 am

      Technology, cameras, it is all over these days… (^-^;) The musicians perform more like a soundtrack than anything else in these kind of ceremonies, so not many people stop and watch. I am kind of a shrine music nerd so… (^-^)


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