All About Japan

5 Tips for Enjoying Kagura

| Shinto , Japanese Countryside

Beginning in November, people in Japan celebrate the harvest and show appreciation to the Shinto gods with a thousand-year-old ritual dance known as kagura. While you can now see kagura performances on the modern stage, many local shrines still carry on their own regional outdoor variants. These tips will help you enjoy the show!

5. Dress Warmly

Traditional kagura stages are set up on the premises of a Shinto shrine, and the dance goes for hours—sometimes until the following morning! As this event takes place during the onset of the cooler months, and since you will most likely be sitting or standing around for a number of hours, it's very important to wear truly warm and comfortable clothing.

4. Find Fire

A campfire is usually provided near the kagura stage. This is a social focal point as well as a place to warm up—and possibly get a shot of hot sake!

3. Make Friends

Most of the audience members are locals, and they're usually happy to find someone new who's interested in their traditional festivals. Once they get to know you and like you, you'll soon find yourself being offered food, drinks, and smiles. It's a good idea to be friendly!

2. Locate the Restroom

The important point to make here is that the conditions for finding anything are not going to be all that good: it will be dark and the crowd will be thick, making locating things and getting around difficult. So make sure you find out where the restroom is early on, well before you’ve gotten too sleepy or had too many cups of sake, and when the light may be better—assuming you arrive early.

1. Bring Your Own Chair

Not many people in the audience bring their own chairs, and chairs are not always provided, so lots of people will be sitting on thin sheets on the ground. If this is the case, the ground can become pretty hard after a few hours have gone by. A simple, light folding chair will make a big difference.