History and Overview of Dainichido Bugaku

The origin of Dainichido Bugaku (ritual sacrifice for the elderly) is said to have been handed down to the villagers in 718, when Dainichido shrine (Ohirumemuchi shrine) was rebuilt by imperial decree.

A celebratory dance performed by musicians who descended from the capital with a famous monk Gyoki was handed down to the villagers.

It is now traditionally dedicated on the second day of the New Year every year with prayers for the peace of the land, a good harvest, and a disease-free life of the land.

Since the beginning of the tradition, those who perform dance have been given land and have been regarded as disciples of god of the earth.

Even in the Edo period, it was revered by the Nanbu clan, giving them fields.

In 1952, when it was designated as an intangible cultural property by the Ministry of Education, the Dainichido Bugaku Preservation Association was formed and is working to pass on the tradition of dance.

It was designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1976, and was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

In the Dainichido Bugaku, there are seven dances categorized Mikomai (mai means dance), Kanatemai, and Honmai, danced by all dancers from all four districts.

Azukizawa district dedicates Gongenmai and Dengakumai.

Osato district dedicates Komamai, Torimai, and Koshomai.

Nagamine district dedicates Uhenmai, and Taninai district does Godaisonmai.

Those who dance follow a strict religious purification before they perform.

On the day of the event, they gather early in the morning at the designated place for each district, cleanse themselves, dance at the village shrine, etc., and then form a procession to Dainichido Shrine.

When they gather in the precincts and line up, they receive an exorcism and perform the Jizo dance (Gongenmai performed in front of the old Jizodo).

After this, a procession is formed to go around the precincts three times according to special kind of Japanese flute, and then perform Hatahei-Hanamai, which are Mikomai, Kanatemai and Gongenmai, downstairs of the shrine.

At the same time as the Hanamai, a dance of agricultural work called Momioshi is performed in the hall of the shrine.

After finishing the Hanamai, the Noshu (dancers) circled the outer corridor of the hall three times, and young people with dragon god flags ran into the path, raised the hat to the top of the hall, and then raised it on a beam.

Following the dances of each district, the stage is purified by some events called Daishogyoji, and then the shrine priest plays the congratulatory lyrics before the dedication of the seven main dances.

Time Schedule (January 2)

8:00Shubatsunogi, Jizomai (Gongenmai)
8:10Hatahei-Hanamai (Kamikomai, Kanatemai, Gongenmai)
8:30Raising of flags
9:00Kanatemai Daishogyoji

The Legend of Danburi the Elder

Danburi is a dialect of the Kazuno region and means tonbo (dragonfly).

Once upon a time, a young man named Taro lived with his elderly father in Azukizawa. Taro had a reputation in the village because he was very honest, filial to his parents, and worked hard, but he lamented in his heart that he was poor and had no food to eat. However, he worked very hard to make his father feel as inconvenient as possible.

Around the same time, in a place called Tokko (present-day Hinai Town, Akita Prefecture), there were three people, a daughter named Tokuko and her parents. Tokuko was a very filial daughter and had a reputation in the village. When Tokuko was older, her parents died one after another. Tokuko mourned it every day.

One night, Tokuko had a dream. God appeared to him in his dream, and he disappeared from the dream, saying, "You will soon go down the creek in front of your house, go up the great river from the point where it joins the great river, and meet a young man at nightfall

Just as God said in her dream, Tokuko left her familiar house and village early the next morning and went up the creek and up the large river. On the way, I walked hard through a place where there was nothing that looked like a road, and when I came to sunset, I looked around. Then a young man was working nearby. Tokuko thought that this person must be the young man God had announced, and told the young man everything that had happened so far. That young man was Taro. It was also dusk, so Taro took Tokuko home and told her father what had happened. The father agreed to be a husband and wife willing to meet God.

The two of them spent every day caring for their elderly father. However, life was still poor. Tomorrow was New Year's Day, but there was nothing to give to God or drink. The couple went to bed lamenting their misfortune. That night, Taro had a dream. God appeared to him in his dream, saying, "This is not where you live, and if you go and live on this river, you will surely be happy. Leave this place as soon as possible, don't tell anyone about this."

Taro woke up. When I looked around, night was already beginning to fall. Taro was surprised and said, "This is Tokuko, wake up, I just had a strange dream," and Tokuko woke up and said, "I've been dreaming too." I replied and looked around. Taro asked, "So, what kind of dream did you have?" and Tokuko told her about the dream she had had. It was exactly the same as Taro's dream. Mr. and Mrs. Taro prayed thankful to God. The family decided to leave the area and went around to say goodbye to the villagers who had taken care of them so far. The villagers said goodbye to the honest and hardworking family.

Then, on the following New Year's Day, the Taro family left the familiar village of Azukizawa and began to climb up the river. The Taro couple climbed up the steep mountain road while caring for their old father, and reached a village called Hiramata, which was located on the river at sunset. And I went to the house of the village chief and asked him to be able to live in this village. The village chief consulted with the villagers and allowed Taro to live in this village. Taro worked hard. However, I could not get out of poverty, but I tried not to make my old father feel inconvenienced.

One day, a few years after Taro came to Hiramata, they went out to work in the fields and had a lunch break as usual. Taro was tired and dozed off and fell asleep. Just then, out of nowhere, a danburi flew in, flew away with a tail on Taro's lips, and then came back and did the same thing. And each time, I heard a whisper, "A spring springs where the morning sun shines." Taro suddenly woke up to that voice and asked Tokuko, "Didn't anyone come here now?" "No, no one came, just a danburi flew on your lips and put its tail on it," Tokuko replied. Taro licked his lips and said, "Oh, yes, I had a dream that I was drinking a sweet liquor that I had never drunk since I was born, and it seems that the taste is still in my mouth." And Taro said, "God must bless you, let's follow the whereabouts of Danburi," and went to Danburi with his wife to fly. Then there was a waterfall, and countless danburi were flying around. Taro scooped up the water from the waterfall and drank it, and found that it was exactly the same sake he had drunk in his dream earlier.

Thankful that God had given us this sake, we put it in a water trough and went home to drink it to our father, who liked to drink. What do you think? The wrinkled face was no longer wrinkled, the bent waist was straightened, the gray hair was gone, and the father was rejuvenated.

The story spread quickly, and many people exchanged sake for rare things such as gold and silver, and the Taro family became the richest people in the country.

 Until now, my long life in poverty has been a complete lie. However, the only thing that was lacking in the Taro family was that they had no children. So Taro and his wife prayed for seven days for God to have a child. A year later, a girl like Tama was born to Taro and his wife. And he named his name "Keiko".

As Keiko grew older, she grew into a daughter with more and more beautiful talents, and became the object of admiration among young people. This message was transmitted to the capital without warning.

One day, Gunji (a local official) sent news to Taro and his wife, asking them to send Keiko up to the capital and serve the imperial court. Mr. and Mrs. Taro were sad to live separately from their only daughter, but they got ready and let them go up to the capital. As soon as I arrived in the capital, I was called to the palace and allowed to meet the emperor. The emperor said, "After a long journey, Keiko should change her name to Princess Kissho and serve the Imperial Court. The Imperial said, "Let's call you 'Danburi Choja.'" Taro, who was called the elder, went home with joy and the loneliness of living with his only daughter.

When Danburi returned home, he gathered the nearby villagers and held a celebratory drinking ceremony for seven days and seven nights, which was called the elder. During this kind of drinking of the chojin, as a side entertainment, rice pressing, Hataage, Mikomai, Kanatemai, mandala chore dance, Gongenmai, Komamai, Uhenmai, Torimai, Godaisonmai, Koshomai, Dengakumai, etc., were performed as entertainment (all of these are said to be dances of the daily lives of the elders at that time, and it is said that they were the basis of the current Dainichido Bugaku).

A few months after the celebration, the eldest father died at the age of one hundred and ten. A few years passed, the eldest couple grew old. The loneliness of living separately from her only daughter and the sadness of losing her father combined with her death soon after.

 When he was about to die, he called the heads of the four people he trusted on a daily basis and said, "When I die, tell Princess Kissho of the capital, and you will continue to work as well as you have always done so that this house will last for a long time. Please bury my body beside my father in Azukizawa."

 The bodies of the eldest couple were buried in Azukizawa as per their will. On the other hand, when Princess Kissho was informed of the death of the eldest couple in the capital, she was very saddened. The emperor told Princess Kissho, "It is unfortunate that I have not been able to be filial to my parents until now, but it would be one of my filial piety to pass on the virtues of my parents (the elders) to future generations and to worship the gods whom the elders believed," and ordered the Kokuji to build a palace in Azukizawa. It is said that this is the current Dainichido.

Every year on January 2nd, the twelve dances mentioned above are held at Dainichido, reminding us of the old days. In addition, Princess Kissho, who was in the capital, also died with a will that said, "After my death, please bury my body in the land of Michinoku parents." His remains were buried all the way from the capital to his parents' graves back home, as per his will. At that time, when a ginkgo branch that was made into a staff from the capital was erected on the grave, it became a large ginkgo tree, and it is said that it was a ginkgo tree that grew in the precincts of Kisshoin.