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Events - 07.17.2019

Deer Dance | Fantastic Folk Traditions from Japan

Deer Dance | Fantastic Folk Traditions from Japan



7:00 PM – 8:30 PM


JAPAN HOUSE Salon, Level 5



Regional and folk traditions have played a vital role in strengthening and building communities, uniting people through a powerful connection that transcends time and distance. In the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan, this connection to tradition, culture, and community has especially been revisited following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami which destroyed large portions of Tohoku and led to widespread loss of life, property, and livelihood. Survivors have shown remarkable resilience in the face of loss, overcoming adversity and rebuilding their community through the revitalization of their traditional culture, ensuring it is carried on by future generations and never forgotten.

In a special night celebrating the beauty and diversity of regional folk customs from Japan, prominent organizations dedicated to restoring and preserving traditional Tohoku culture—visual design studio WOW, Tokyo Shishiodori, Tateito-yokoito, and Gyouzanryu Maikawa Shishiodori—will come together to discuss the role that regional traditions have played in strengthening the bonds of community after the 2011 devastation and present a live performance of Shishi-Odori (‘Deer Dance’).

Following the performance, Tokyo Shishiodori, Gyouzanryu Maikawa Shishiodori, and Tateito-yokoito founders Shutaro Koiwa and Masaya Yamada, will join in an intimate conversation about the rich traditions of Japanese dance and folk art, with special attention to the characteristics and flavors of the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan. The evening will conclude with a short Q&A and a viewing of the costumes on display.


Registration has closed.

Related Exhibition

BAKERU: Transforming Spirits


07.17.2019 – 10.20.2019


Mon.-Sat. 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sun. 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM


JAPAN HOUSE Gallery, Level 2



Deer Dance | Fantastic Folk Traditions from Japan
Deer Dance | Fantastic Folk Traditions from Japan
Deer Dance | Fantastic Folk Traditions from Japan

Photo by Yoko Ishii

About Speakers & Organizations


Tokyo Shishiodori

Formed in 2013 by a group of people from the Maikawa District of Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture who were living in Tokyo and passionate about the Shishiodori. The group studies the Gyouzanryu Maikawa Shishiodori, (‘Gyouzan School Maikawa Beast Dance’), and runs workshops for multicultural, multigenerational audiences on various topics, attempting to promote ways of continuously engaging traditional cultures.

Gyouzanryu Maikawa Shishiodori

Adjacent to the Hiraizumi World Heritage Site, the Maikawa District in Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture, is a mountain village with many traditional arts.

Read more.

The Gyouzanryu Maikawa Shishiodori (‘Gyouzan School Maikawa Beast Dance’) was brought from Minamisanriku Town, Miyagi Prefecture, in the 1700s. It is one of the oldest dances among the southern Iwate Prefecture Shishiodori, of which there are at least 50, and which all involve headpieces with real deer horns, bamboo rods called sasara on the back, and taiko drums carried at the hip.

The number of young people involved in the dance is remarkable, and the group actively participates in exchanges with other dance groups and performing arts, presentations at temples, and the revival of traditions and songs. The group often collaborates with Tokyo Shishi-Odori to develop programming. An Iwate Prefecture-designated intangible folk cultural asset.

Tateito-yokoito LLC

Established in 2016 to plan, coordinate, and serve as a resource for projects that reconsider and raise the value of diverse cultures (religious, secular, traditional arts, food, craftsmanship) in the Tohoku Region. The company co-sponsors projects with governments and corporations that combine specialized knowledge with new viewpoints and methods of engagement, in order to develop contents that promote education, tourism, and artistic culture. Performs the traditional “Shishi-Odori” (‘Beast Dance’) as a means of communicating the beauty and appeal of regional culture.

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