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Iconography of kagura performance at Ise 1





Here, a picture of Ise Daidai-kagura no zu , picture of Daidai-kagura being the possession of Ise-jingū shrine. This picture is from the collection of Ise-Jingū.


1) priestesses

2) musicians : On back side, there are tsuzumi drummers. On front side, there are flutists.

3) Officiant who is going to read ritualized text norito

4) priestesses who is going to dance

5) officiant who spread steaming water by sakaki brunch at his right side for purification

6) byakkai : boxy ritual accessory in which divine spirit incarnates

7) paper amulets on the stand (later they will be distributed to believers)

8) ritual paper accessory gohei attached to the cord

9) cauldron with steaming water for the purification

10) brunch of sakaki

11) suzu bell used as ritual accessory by dancers-priestesses

12) ōdaiko drum

13) they can be percussionists (not sure)

14) priestesses

15) dippers for distribution of sacred sake

16) Officiant called kagura-yakunin (* I referred this site about this interpretation.)

17) at the first line, I see a tsuzumi drum, they can be musicians.


During Edo period, pilgrimage to sacred places are very commun. Ise-jingū shrine is one of most favorite destination. Pilgrims order special prayer to oshi, officiant-guide, with dance performance. This is the kagura. Number of performed dance pieces was different according to the rank: shō (small), chū (middle), dai (big) and daidai (very big). (Daidai-kagura is highest rank.) Once you order daidai-kagura, it costs about 6-10 million yen as the present value.


There are some votive pictures. Below, one of exemples introduced in the website bunka isan online.

This is ema, votive picture dedicated to nenohi-jinja shrine at Saitama. This picture is dated in 1813, painted on the wooden board. Height 123cm, width 151 cm. More information on this page.

On the right center of this picture, you see an officiant reading ritualised text.

On his left side, there is one priestess. On her back, there are 6 other priestess. On the back side of the stage, there are one another priestess.

The particularity of Iseryū-kagura school is purification by steaming water; You see one cauldron on the back side of this picture, just in front of alter.




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