Posts tagged ‘Tohoku’

September 8, 2012

Shishi-Odori | Deer Dance




Oshu Kanatsu-Ryu Shishi-Odori Dance Troupe perform @ Bernie Spain Gardens, London (2012).

Shishi-Odori is a popular folk performing art in the Tohoku (north-east) region of Japan, an area struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake last year.

In the performance, dancers beat a taiko drum hung at the waist, wear carved wooden shishi-gashira (deer mask) adorned with real deer horns and carry long sasara on their backs. Handed down from generation to generation, Shishi-Odori is performed as both a way of expressing respect towards nature and praying for the repose of ancestors’ souls.

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February 19, 2012

Interview | Eikoh Hosoe

February 19, 2012

Kamaitachi | Eikoh Hosoe


All images © Eikoh Hosoe

Eikoh Hosoe’s long association with the revolutionary performance movement butoh came about through his encounter in 1959 with one of its founders, Tatsumi Hijikata. Hosoe collaborated with Hijikata on several series including Kamaitachi, which is acknowledged as the finest illustration of Hosoe’s hybrid photographic style, combining performance and documentary with a dramatic, virile aesthetic that embodies the founding principles of Hijikata’s ankoku butoh or ‘dance of darkness’.  The dramatic and intense energy that Hijikata generated with his dance not only captured Hosoe’s imagination but also opened up new ways for the young photographer to approach themes such as sexuality, gender and the human body.

Driven by the desire to re-enact his childhood memories when he was evacuated from Tokyo during World War Two, Hosoe had Hijikata perform kamaitachi, the legendary weasel-like demon that haunted the rice paddies in the extremely sparse, rural landscape of the Tohoku region from where they both came. Fusing reality (Hijikata interacting with the landscape and village people) and performance, Hosoe’s ‘subjective documentary’ series opened new ground in Japanese post-war photography.