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Tsuwano Odori -Bon Dance- | 津和野踊り


The Obon Festival is an annual Japanese holiday that lasts 3 days in August and commemorates the ancestors, whose spirits are believed to temporarily return to this world in order to visit their relatives.

In Tsuwano, the dance of the Obon festival is also called the Tsuwano Odori (“odori” meaning “dance”).

While wearing a black hood (kurozukin), as well as a white headband with a round fan up high, participants dance in an elegant manner at a relaxing tempo. Features still remain from the Nenbutsu Odori (a Buddhist dance) popularly performed during the medieval period.

 Tsuwano Hyakkeizu, Painting No. 99

Bon Odori Festival

It is said that Kamei held the first Tsuwano Odori when he arrived as the new castle lord of Tsuwano in 1617.
In 2017, a big celebration was held for the 400th anniversary since its creation.

The origin of the dance, and the unique costumes with the black hood covering the face (kurozukin), go back even further.

Before the Kamei clan came to Tsuwano, they were ruling a part of today’s Tottori prefecture.

One day, the clan was trying to overtake an enemy castle which proved to be particularly difficult and a new strategy was needed. Knowing that the enemy lord loved festivals, he decided to immediatly plot a plan and ordered his men to dress up in this unique costume and dance during the Obon season. For 4 years, once or twice a year, they danced in the village below the castle.

In the 4th year, Kamei ordered his soldiers to wear samurai armor underneath the costumes and carefully hide the weapons. They even used small bells attached to their sleeves to mask the clinking sound of the armor.

The castle garrison thought it was the usual festivities, and came down to the village to participate in the dance. Little did they know that this time, they were dancing with the enemies. The battle erupted and after a short fight, they fled the village and the Kamei clan finally took over the castle. To celebrate this victory, the dance is performed every year in the same type of costume and face mask.

The Tsuwano dance is held at various locations around the castle town, from the 10th to 15th of August.

There are dance workshops so please join us for this special occasion!

For more details, please contact the Tsuwano Tourism Association
at tsuwanok@tsuwano.net

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