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Friday, Jan. 22, 2010

January goes out like a lion

Staff writer

Japan's lion dances, and there are about 7,800 of them, all have their own style but the purpose is mainly the same. The shishi (lion) dances act as a prayer to ward off evil spirits.

News photo
Rip-roaring fun: People perform Ise Shrine's traditional lion dance.

The National Theater will host five sacred shishi performances from 1 p.m. and 4: 30 p.m. on Jan. 30. The dances are from Nagano, Hyogo, Kyoto, Gifu and Mie prefectures in the Chubu and Kinki regions of the country.

Seven-meter-long shishi from Nagano's Oshimazan Ruriji Temple will be among those featured, and will end with a finale of flowers "blooming" on the shishi's hips. Those flowers can bring good luck — if people can manage to grab them.

Also featured are daikagura (dance and acrobatics) from Mie's Ise Shrine. Daikagura is a traditional form of entertainment that came from shrines. In the past, the Ise Shrine's daikagura would visit the sick and infirm — those who could not visit the shrine itself — and pray for their safety and health. It also greatly influenced other regional folk performances.

The Attractive Lion Performance (Miryousuru Shishi no Gei) will be held on Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the National Theater in Tokyo. Tickets cost ¥3,600 (¥2,500 for students) and a set ticket for 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. costs ¥6,840. For further information, call National Theater Ticket Center (0570) 07-9900 or visit www.ntj.jac.go.jp/

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