Frequent performances of the Ise Daikagura began during the Edo period. It is said that it originated in a so-called substitute kagura, offered in a ceremony to prevent illness and disaster and to protect the home for those people unable to worship in person at the Ise Shrine. This performance consists of the shishimai, featuring a lion character with penetrating eyes, and juggling entertainment using traditional Japanese handballs, plates, swords, and umbrellas. At present, six groups of masters are keeping these various traditional arts alive. Usually, a single group travels from town to town throughout the Kansai region to perform these classic arts. At Masuda Shrine, where these arts originated, all the masters gather every year on festival days to joyfully present the shishimai and juggling in a program with eight performances of each. Local residents and lowers of these arts throng the forest of the tutelary god and greet the performances of these sophisticated arts with excited cheering.
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