The holy, traditional Yokagura Dance can be seen inside Takachiho Shrine, located in Miyazaki Prefecture. Surprisingly, you can see a part of this special dance, called the Takachiho Kagura, on any day of the year at Takachiho Shrine.
About the Takachiho Shrine
Takachiho Shrine locates in the center of the town of Takachiho. The shrine was constructed approximately 1900 years ago. The main hall and the storage hall are designated as Important Cultural Properties.
You can pray here for successful harvest and disaster prevention. For successful relationships, visit the “Couple Tree (夫婦杉)”, as it is said that circling the tree three times while holding your partner’s hand brings the two of you luck.
What is the Yokagura Dance?
Yokagura is a dance dedicated to the local deity god of each village. A total of thirty-three numbers are performed throughout one night. Usually the ritual is performed in the autumn and winter to pray for a successful harvest in around 20 villages.
In the dances, you can find many representations of characters from Japanese folklores and legends. Yokagura was designated as an important intangible folk cultural asset in 1978.
Takachiho Kagura – performed every night
Uzume no mai
Although the entire Yokagura Dance is only performed between November and February, a snippet of it, titled Takachiho Kagura, is performed every night. From 8:00p.m. at Takachiho Shrine’s Kagura-den Hall, you can witness this special dance. Out of the thirty-three numbers, these four depictions are performed:
・ Tajikara-o no mai: searching for the local deity
・ Uzume no mai: calling out the local deity from the Amano-iwato cave
・ Totori no mai: cracking open the Amano-iwato cave
・ Goshintai no mai: two gods forming the nation
The holy dances are performed by each of the village’s official dancers, and are more of a traditional ritual rather than a tourist attraction. It is a great opportunity to experience Japanese traditional culture on any day of the year.
Experience the Entire Yokagura Dance!
If you want to see the entire dance, you can visit Takachiho Shrine between mid-November and early February. The ritual takes the whole night -- beginning in the evening and lasting until noon of the following day. Each village performs on a separate day. The ritual schedule is released every October, and you can check it out here.
Yokagura’s Thirty-three Dances
Goshintai no mai
These are the thirty-three dances of Yokagura. The order and styles vary according to each village.
01.Hikomai – 彦舞: The first seven dances are called “Yodo-nanaban”, and depictions of granting wishes
02.Taidono – 太殿: Inviting the deity “Yorozu-no-okami”
03.Kami-oroshi – 神降: A dance to invite deities
04.Chinju – 鎮守: Calming the land to preserve the deity’s grace
05.Suginobori – 杉登: The deity’s departure
06.Jikatame – 地固: Handing over the sword of protection to the local representative.
07.Hikanze – 幣神添: Purification ritual with a traditional staff
08.Buchi – 武知: Preparation for battle
09.Tachikanze – 太刀神添: Using a holy sword to avoid disaster
10.Yumishogo – 弓正護: Using a bow to get rid of demons
11.Okihe – 沖逢: A ritual celebrating the water deity to avoid fire-related catastrophes
12.Iwakuguri – 岩潜: Sword dance
13.Jiwari – 地割: An important ritual in the Kamado Festival
14.Yamamori – 山森: Appearance of the mountain deity and two lions
15.Sodebana – 袖花: A female deity welcoming a male deity
16.Honbana – 本花: A dance to pray for successful harvest
17.Gokoku – 五穀: Celebration of grains
18.Shichikijin – 七貴神: Celebrating the deity of harvest
19.Yatsubachi – 八つ鉢: A deity dances on a taiko drum
20.Goshintai – 御神体: Alcohol-making dance
21.Sumiyoshi – 住吉: Dance of the deity of the ocean
22.Isekagura – 伊勢神楽: A dance using a bigger version of the traditional staff
23.Shibahiki – 柴引: Decorating with a piece of wood taken from Amano-kaguyama Mountain.
24.Tajikara-o –手力雄: Searching for the local deity
25.Uzume – 鈿女: Calling out the local deity from the Amano-iwato cave
26.Totori – 戸取: Cracking open the Amano-iwato cave
27.Maihiraki – 舞開: Placing a mirror in front of where the deity was to celebrate
28.Hinomae – 日の前: Celebrating the departure of a deity
29.Daijin – 大神: Purification dance of the deity of the ocean
30.Onshiba – 御柴: Portrays the singularity mankind and deity.
31.Shimeguchi – 注連口: Seeing off the deity
32.Kuri-oroshi – 繰下し: Dancing towards the exit
33.Kumo-oroshi – 雲下し: Dance to “bring down the clouds”
Access via Public Transportation
Nearest station: Takachiho Bus Terminal (bus stop) 高千穂バスターミナル
From Miyazaki Station
【Miyazaki Sta.】JR Nippo Line / for Nobeoka
→【Nobeoka Sta.】Local Bus / for Takachiho
→【Takachiho Bus Terminal】→ about a 15-minute walk
From Kumamoto Station
【Kumamoto Sta.】Highway Bus / for Nobeoka
→【Takachiho Bus Terminal】→ about a 15-minute walk
Enjoy the traditional performing arts with a light-heart
Experience the Takachiho Kagura, welcoming to all persons. Enjoy the seasonal Yokagura. Come and see the folk entertainment, Yokagura of Takachiho, for yourself!
1037 Mitai, Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki
From 8:00p.m. (Registration from 7:00p.m.)