Dainichido bugaku – only culture in Akita that UNESCO accepts as a World Heritage –


Bugaku is combination of dance (Mai) and instrumental ensemble. It originated in either the Korean Peninsula or Chinese Continent, and developed during the Heian period (around late 8th c. to late 12th c.). Bugaku doesn’t use stringed instruments, but rather, it uses only wind and percussion instruments. The reason for this is because for Bugaku, which was often played outside, a louder accompaniment volume was preferred. During the Heian period, Bugaku was only limited for aristocrats and imperial family to enjoy, but the ensembles that were handed down through Japan became part of several ceremonies, festivals, and Shinto rites.m002(5316)【権現舞】History
Dainichidou Bugaku is a sacred New Year’s dance that has been handed down by the Oohirumemuchi Shrine (also known as Dainichidou), which was said to be elected in the 6th c. by the 25th Emperor, Buretsu-tennou. The shrine is in Kaduno-city, in the Northern part of Akita, located at the prefectural boundary of Aomori and Iwate.

According to legend, Dainichido Bugaku was introduced in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, to Kaduno-city about 1300 years ago when Dainichido was reconstructed. In this northern part of Japan, Dainichido Bugaku has been quietly followed by local people for over 1000 years.m004(5484)【烏遍舞】Dancers
The dancers of Dainichidou Bugaku consists of 35 chosen people, which includes a few children from four different communities: Osato, Azukisawa, Nagamine, and Taniuchi. Every 2nd of January, they perform at the stage of the main shrine building. Dainichido Bugaku is made up of a total of 9 different dances, where two of the dances are performed by dancers from all of the communities and the remaining seven dances are played by each different community. For example, Osato has taken charge of three dances called Komamai, Torimai, and Kousyoumai.

Since it’s a sacred ceremony, dancers must purify their bodies before they perform. In the early morning—when it often snows—wearing nothing but a loincloth, they splash icy water onto themselves then clothe at one of the local shrine depending on their community. Afterwards, they dance at their respective local shrine. Enveloped in the chilly morning air, all ceremonial activities are held outside. Once they finish the ceremonies at the local shrines, they move to Dainichido. At Dainichido, they march and dance together with the graceful music of the wind and percussion instruments to further purify themselves and the stage where they will perform. After about one hour of such preparations, a Shinto priest then recites Norito, signalizing the beginning of the main performance. All dances are highly related to local myth and rice-production.m010(5858)【五大尊舞】Masks and Costumes
Many types of masks have been handed down from the elderly to youths within each local community. It is prohibited to touch the masks directly, even by the chosen dancers, so they use sacred cloths when wearing the masks. Costumes were originally made in the winter when there were heavy snowfalls and no agricultural duties. When changing masks and clothes from dance to dance, dancers pray for New Year’s happiness, huge harvest, and people’s sound health.m008(5686)【五大尊舞】Cultural Heritage
The government recognizes the historical and artistic worth of Dainichido Bugaku, and registered it as a National Intangible Folk Culture Asset in 1976. Moreover, in 2009, it became the only culture in Akita that UNESCO accepts as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage. The authenticity of Dainichido Bugaku, in terms of local lives and legend, is highly valued both nationally and globally.m011(5868)【工匠舞】


For Dainishido Shrine, dance is dedicated to its God by local people in 2nd of January every year. The dance and music are designated as the national intangible cultural heritage property. 35 men and boys who are chosen from four communities perform this dance. It is Horner to be a member of dancer, and they purify their body by icy water before they start. There seven kinds of dance that local people handed down from to generation to generation. This region had prospered with gold mining that performance use golden mask also handed down for a long time. The performance shows dedication to God and tells the story of ancient life in the countryside.

Event date
2nd January every year
Dainichido Bugaku Preserving association
Hachimanbyoujido no ue 16, Kazuno city, Akita prefecture
Number of car spaces
About 100 (infront of Hachiman city center)
Corresponding at the time of bad weather
not affected by weather condition