Asahi Hone Taiko Odori
Taiko dances are performed to call forth the power of the gods using the sound of the taiko drum, which resembles thunder. These dances are performed throughout Japan to pray for rain. They are particularly widespread in Shiga Prefecture, and the Asahi Honen Taiko Odori of Santo-cho is well known for maintaining the traditions of the past unchanged. In the rain dances, the dancers wear tsumaori gasa (bamboo hats), and have large taiko drums suspended from their bodies. They form a circle to perform the dance in the shrine grounds, accompanied by gongs and flutes. They perform the Tarafuku no kyoku, Karasutobi no kyoku, and nagauta, and offer prayers mixed with singing. Another surviving traditional dance is the Henrei odori (Thanksgiving Dance) that is performed after the rain falls and a good crop is harvested. This dance was formerly performed only during droughts, and so was seen just 19 times in the 100-year period from the beginning of the Meiji Era in 1868. Now, however, it is performed every year to preserve it and pass it on to future generations.
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