Japan’s Most Incredible Form of Dance Theater – Hiroshima Kagura

A lively traditional art that both kids and adults can enjoy

Hiroshima Kagura

Writings on Kagura date back to the 8th century, describing its origins as a dance of the Gods in Japan’s mythological age. In an era with few forms of entertainment, kagura was an important year-round event that villages would enjoy through the night. Today, kagura is performed at shrine “matsuri” (festivals) and other locations around the country.

Perhaps more than anywhere, kagura thrives in Hiroshima Prefecture. Developed from a combination of influences including neighbouring Shimane Prefecture’s Izumo kagura and Iwami kagura, everyone from children to adults enjoy this performing art so familiar to people in the region.

Hiroshima kagura is a powerful dance performance featuring a rhythmic musical accompaniment of flute, taiko drums and other traditional instruments, combined with gorgeously ornate costumes. The heaviest costumes can weight up to 20kg (44 pounds) but most of them appear super-light on the performers.

No need to book seats, and you can try on costumes for photos!

Azaka  Kagura dance troupe
Azaka Kagura dance troupe

There are some 200 Kagura dance troupes based in Hiroshima Prefecture, with periodic performances taking place throughout the region.

In the city of Hiroshima from April 5 to December 27 2017, you can catch a Kagura performance every Wednesday at the Hiroshima Prefectural Citizen’s Culture Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost ¥1,000 and go on sale at the box office on the day of the performance from 5 p.m.

The program consists of two performances lasting approximately 30 to 40 minutes each. Most of the dances draw on Japanese myths and legends, pitting good versus evil in simple stories that even first-timers can get a kick out of. Another feature of Kagura is the art of “hayagawari”, where a performer will make a lightning-fast change and reappear in the same scene as a different character!

Kinsho Kagura dance troupe
Kinsho Kagura dance troupe

Even better, after the show is over, you have the chance to take photos with the performers and try on one of their colorful costumes! Upload a one-of-a-kind pic to your favorite SNS account!

Kagura & hot spring combination!

Kagura Dome theater

In Hiroshima Prefecture, you can combine a Kagura performance, hot spring relaxation, and local cuisine all at one vacation facility! A short one-hour bus ride from Hiroshima will take you to Akitakata City, where you’ll find Kagura Monzen Toji Village. Visitors to the 1950s-era town can catch an exciting kagura performance at the Kagura Dome theater and learn more about Kagura history at the museum.

During Kagura Dome’s April to November season, performances are staged on Sundays and National Holidays at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.* Entrance is ¥700 and tickets can be bought at the theater box office. At the museum’s smaller “Kamukura-za” theater, you can enjoy Kagura on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 p.m. Entrance is ¥500 and there is photo time after the performance.
There are also workshops where you can paint Kagura masks (from ¥1800) and make bow and arrows props (¥500).

*For performance times from December to March, please check the official website.