This highly ritualized theatrical performance re-enacts legends associated with the gods of the Shinto pantheon. Skilled performers wear elaborate costumes and masks as they move rhythmically to the sounds of flutes, drums cymbals and stylized singing. One of the most loved tales depicts the mythical battle between a god and a serpent.
With a history that goes back well over a thousand years, the Iwami Kagura was initially done to welcome and entertain the gods, whose presence within a community was considered to be sign of good fortune to come. Over time it has been performed as a fertility or harvest rite.
Performances are held year round at a variety of venues throughout Shimane Prefecture, so there are plenty of chances to see one with a bit of planning.
About the Area
Shimane Prefecture can be understood best by making a distinction between its eastern and western halves. The east is made up of the cities and towns near and around Lake Shinji and Lake Nakaumi.
The major municipalities include the cities of Yasugi, Matsue and Izumo. An area of exception that should also be in this category is the Oki Island Archipelago, which is 75-85 kilometers off the coast. The eastern region of Shimane has the largest population and is home to the prefectural capital, Matsue City.
Western Shimane Prefecture or more precisely the southwest, includes the cities of Masuda and Hamada as well as the Tsuwano Town on the border with Yamaguchi Prefecture. The western half of Shimane is characterized by its natural beauty from the hinterland to the coast.
The cultural bond that unites the entire prefecture can be found in the shared reverence for the history, myths and legends of the land. One example is the Kagura dance for the gods that is performed throughout Shimane in several variations.
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|Cancellation Date||Up to 21 days prior||20-8 days prior||7-2 days prior||Day prior to start of tour||Day of tour||After start of tour/non-participation with no contact|
|Cancellation Fee||No charge||20% of tour fee||30% of tour fee||40% of tour fee||50% of tour fee||100% of tour fee|