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Shamanic Dance in Japan: The Choreography of Possession in Kagura Performance

Irit Averbuch
Asian Folklore Studies
Vol. 57, No. 2 (1998), pp. 293-329
Published by: Nanzan University
DOI: 10.2307/1178756
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1178756
Page Count: 37
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Shamanic Dance in Japan: The Choreography of Possession in Kagura Performance
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Abstract

This paper discusses the choreography of trance in Japanese kagura dances and the shamanic elements that have been preserved in them. Three case studies of kagura are examined: (1) Ōmoto Kagura, in which an authentic shamanic trance is still performed and which serves as a point of comparison; (2) Hana Matsuri, which has a kagura dance which is believed to indicate that the dance once included a possession-trance ("kamigakari"); (3) Hayachine Kagura which never included a possession-trance but still displays clear shamanic choreography in its dances. Using these case studies, the shamanic character of kagura is discussed, as well as why such shamanic choreography is preserved even where real trance does not exist. It is also shown how "kamigakari" is expressed in dance and how it functions in such performances.

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