Amami International Network >> Interests >> Local Events
This traditional performance takes place at Ochon Shrine in Shodon village, near the ferry port. Ochon Shrine is dedicated to the downfallen hero of a medieval family, Sukemori of Taira. Legend has it that, during his exile on the island, he taught the villagers about Kyoto-style performances.
The dancing and music in Shodon Shibaya is performed by an all-male cast wearing masks. These folk traditions are highly regarded as a cultural treasure, possibly sharing the same roots as early Kabuki.
Arasetsu, meaning "new season," is a two-part ceremony celebrated in Akina village. Through the rituals of Hirase-Mankai and Shochogama, islanders give thanks for a good harvest.
Hirase-Mankai is impressively led by female shamans standing on rocks by the beach. In Shochogama, villagers build a stage-like platform made of wood and bamboo. Only men (including male visitors) are allowed to set foot on the platform, and at dawn they stomp on it until it collapses to wish for a good harvest in the coming season, while onlookers cheer.
After these ceremonies, people break into joyful singing and dancing, inviting everyone to join.
Every autumn, island communities celebrate the harvest and wish for prosperity in the coming seasons. Villagers gather and go house-to-house to share the feast, singing and dancing late into the night. There are many variations of these festivals, including Hachigatsu Odori (August Dance), Honensai (Harvest Festival) and Taneoroshi (Seed Festival).
Tourists are welcome join in, but it is a good idea to donate some money.